Unions must wait to meet BMW

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The Independent Online

Unions hoping to meet BMW chiefs in their latest bid to save the threatened Rover plant at Longbridge must wait until next week.

Officials are likely to travel to BMW's Munich headquarters on Tuesday to back ex-Rover chief executive John Towers' bid to take over the ailing car maker.

If no credible buyer emerges within after yesterday's collapse of the expected deal with venture capitalists Alchemy, the German car giant will close Rover.

Mr Towers' Phoenix consortium, which would retain Rover as a mass manufacturer, is the only hope of survival for the 50,000 Rover workers.

"I think the chance of the Phoenix bid being successful is extremely high. We have all got to work together to make the bid successful," TGWU negotiator Tony Woodley told Sky News.

Alchemy boss Jon Moulton said the prospect of its bid - which would have involved major job losses - coming alive again was "extremely unlikely".

He told BBC Radio: "There is a huge chasm between the parties, not a small gap."

But he predicted a gloomy fate for the rival Phoenix bid: "I do honestly believe it to be a non-starter. I wish there was some go in it but any mass-production plant simply is not financiable."

Labour MP Martin O'Neill, chairman of the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee, confessed he was not overly optimistic about Phoenix's chances.

"Frankly at the moment, although I wish them well, I don't know if I would hold my breath on it," he said.

BMW says it is losing £2 million a day at Rover and wants new buyers to take the troubled car group off its hands as soon as possible - and certainly within the next 30 days.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union said: "BMW should now meet with us to discuss where we go from here.

"We need to be certain that they are serious about securing the future of Rover."