Saved: Chinese bail out Rover for £1bn

MG Rover, the last remaining British-owned volume car-maker, is set to be rescued with the help of more than £1bn of Chinese cash. But the agreement with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which is due to be signed early next year, will mean that control of the Longbridge-based motor manufacturer will pass out of British hands.

A new joint-venture company will design, develop and produce cars. It will be 70 per cent owned by the Chinese and 30 per cent by MG Rover.

The deal comes as MG Rover's financial plight worsens. Its losses this year are expected to be more than £100m and its share of UK car sales has slumped to an all-time low of under 3 per cent. Huge damage has been done to the brand by accusations of boardroom greed and asset-stripping levelled at the four Midlands businessmen who bought it from BMW four years ago for a symbolic £10. Last week, a senior BMW executive called them the "unacceptable face of capitalism".

There will be separate British and Chinese companies to manufacture the new models in Birmingham and Shanghai but the key assets and intellectual property rights of the two car-makers will be contained in the Chinese-controlled joint venture.

The deal has yet to be approved by the Chinese government, although SAIC has already made a down payment of about £40m to MG Rover. Provided the deal comes to fruition, it will safeguard the 6,100-strong workforce at Longbridge and thousands more jobs in supply companies. The agreement envisages investment of between £1bn and £1.5bn in a series of new models and annual production of around one million cars, with about 200,000 of those to be built in the UK. Most of the investment will come from the Chinese company.

John Towers, the chairman of MG Rover's parent company Phoenix Venture Holdings, has begun briefing employees and dealers on the joint venture, telling them he expects it to be signed in January or early February. Mr Towers said: "The future of the company rests on this deal. It is absolutely critical. But we are confident we are going to bring it to the table."

He added that although the Chinese government had yet to sanction the joint venture, the benefits of the deal to both companies were so compelling that MG Rover was now certain it would go ahead.

"We reckon close to one million cars could be associated with the joint venture," said Mr Towers. "You can imagine the economies of scale and the much lower cost base which will come from that. There's a medium car, a small car, a large car and a sports car platform there as well." The first fruits of the joint venture will be a replacement for the Rover 45, which Mr Towers said would appear in the spring or summer of 2006. The other new models - including one to compete in the "super-mini" sector of the market alongside the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa - would go into production about nine months later.

Mr Towers and the three other founding directors of Phoenix - Peter Beale, Nick Stephenson and John Edwards - have been criticised over a £16m pension trust fund set up for their benefit and a further £13m they stand to gain on top of their salaries from various other financial deals involving Rover assets.

China is one of the fastest-growing car markets in the world, with SAIC's output alone expected to increase to 3.5 million vehicles over the next five years. The government-owned car-maker is one of China's top three automotive groups with sales of £12.4bn. Last year it produced 600,000 cars.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone