MUNICH: German luxury carmaker BMW has sold the brand rights to Rover, the revered UK car marque whose parent MG Rover collapsed last year amid allegations of corruption and fraud. Curiously, however, the identity of the buyer remains concealed beneath the hood.

BMW, which acquired the once-renowned UK quality marque in 1994, struggled unsuccessfully to drag the parent company out of the red, selling it in 2000 for a song to a questionable consortium of local businessmen.

It was again sold, in 2005, jointly to Chinese firms Nanjing Automobile and Shanghai Automotive. The former owns the MG Rover business; the latter, the design rights to two Rover models.

The German company, however, retained the rights to the Rover name and logo, of which it has now disposed. Says a BMW spokesman: "We have been in discussions with several parties over the sale of the Rover trademark and we have now closed a deal with one of these parties."

But lips are zipped as to which.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff