Nanjing casts doubt on Rover deal with James

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Sources close to Nanjing, which bought MG Rover from its administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers for £53m last year, poured cold water yesterday on reports of a tie-up with Mr James' Project Kimber team, which has been interested in the MG marque since the company's collapse a year ago.

It is known that Mr James is keen to acquire the rights to the Smart Roadster from DaimlerChrysler. It is thought he would then like to build a small two-seater sports car but badged as an MG.

Mr James denied reports that he had bought the Smart Roadster from Daimler for €20m (£14m) and the former Dunlop factory in Coventry for €10m in readiness to begin manufacture. It is known that he is still keen to get his hands on MG Rover.

But sources close to Nanjing said it was unlikely the company would sell him the name because it remained committed to reviving production at MG Rover's Longbridge plant. "The whole Kimber Project story is a load of cobblers," a source said. "There is a lot of disingenuous misinformation being put about. James may be interested in the Smart Roadster but that has nothing to do with Nanjing."