Mystery Indian firm in Rover talks with BMW

Ministers yesterday announced a £10m aid package for businesses in the West Midlands as an official report warned that thousands of jobs were threatened by the sale of Rover.

As the Government digested the dire warnings contained in the study, it emerged that a third bidder might be interested in buying the company.

It is thought that Tata, a £150bn Indian conglomerate with a motor industry subsidiary, has signed a confidential agreement with BMW giving it access to the company's financial records.

Telco, the group's automotive offshoot, could be interested in mass-producing the Indica small car at the plant, it is believed. The Italian-designed Indica is the third-highest volume car in the subcontinent and executives believe an upgraded version might sell at the "cheap and cheerful" end of the UK market.

An Indian diplomatic source confirmed that the Tata empire, based at Jamshedpur, had been looking towards expanding in the European Union. Following liberalisation of the commercial sector in India it had acquired businesses overseas, including the Tetley tea group in the UK. Senior management at the Indian conglomerate are known to have been impressed by the rapid inroads made in Britain by Hyundai, the Korean car company.

The news of Tata's interest came as John Towers, a former Rover executive, put his own proposals for the Longbridge plant to Professor Werner Samann of BMW, present owners of the British business.

Mr Towers has asked for more time to draw up a bid for the site on behalf of the Phoenix consortium, which is made up of Midlands businessmen.

The Towers plan has won the support of union leaders at the plant because it involves the retention of mass production and would only lead to between 1,000 and 2,000 job losses.

Hundreds of Rover workers and their supporters staged a rally at Longbridge yesterday to show their support for Phoenix.

Meanwhile, representatives of Alchemy, BMW's preferred bidder, expressed confidence that it would sign a deal to buy Rover, either tomorrow or at the weekend. Alchemy envisages producing MG-badged cars in limited production runs.

A Government taskforce warned in its report that a cutback in output at the giant Longbridge plant near Birmingham could mean the loss of 11,000 jobs, but that a complete shutdown of the works could lead to more than 20,000 redundancies in the area.

The report said the complex was a "linchpin" for the economy of the region supporting an estimated 55,000 jobs, 8 per cent of all manufacturing employment in the region.

The taskforce asked for a short-term injection of £27.5m and put forward an action plan, including help to diversify the local workforce and local suppliers, tackle unemployment and the social consequences of job losses and regenerate the car firm's sites.

The Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers, said the report stressed the underlying strengths of the economy in the West Midlands.

Mr Byers acknowledged that BMW was now close to striking a deal with Alchemy, but urged the German firm to listen to Mr Towers' offer.

He said: "Even at this late hour BMW should act with fairness towards the Phoenix bid and they should give detailed consideration to John Towers' proposals."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news

Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week