Chapman bid could hand lifeline to ailing MG group

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The Independent Online

As the deadline looms for interested parties to bid for the assets of Britain's last indigenous-owned volume car maker, MG Rover, there was a surprise announcement yesterday from Chapman Automotive that it was "in the final stages of putting together a bid to purchase assets related to MG" from the administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Chapman Automotive stressed, however, that the bid only relates to the MG TF sports car, and not the various saloon models derived from Rovers. It is also clear from the information the company placed in the public domain that their plan is to transfer production of the TF from Longbridge to "another facility in the West Midlands".

Chapman Automotive was founded by Colin Spooner, a former design director of Lotus, and has mostly been involved in consultancy work for emerging market car makers in China and Iran.

The MG brand is one of the few assets that was not sold off by MG Rover's owners, Phoenix Venture Holdings, before its collapse. The famous octagon badge is said to be worth about £50m, and would, in theory at least, suit one of the larger motor groups who need a sports marque and who might be able to breathe new life into it.

If the Chapman Automotive bid succeeds it would spell the end of even limited manufacturing at the old site, which had been making cars for 100 years.

Jon Moulton, the head of Alchemy, the venture capital group, has already pulled out of buying the MG sports car operation, leaving administrators with little chance of reviving Longbridge.