"We can do the job": Phoenix

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The Independent Online

One of the backers of a new bid for Rover has defended his consortium from accusations that their plan is doomed to failure.

The Phoenix Consortium's John Hemming said the plan was properly funded and was being taken seriously by BMW.

Rival Alchemy Partners had dismissed the bid as "non-viable" with no real finance behind it. Alchemy's plan involves drastically cutting production at Longbridge.

Mr Hemming insisted on GMTV's Sunday Programme with Alastair Stewart that the Alchemy bid "looks less of a done deal now than it did to start out with".

He said: "Our assessment is that we can do the job. The team shows it has experience in the past, it's a good team."

He added: "BMW have made it very clear now that they are willing to look at alternatives, they have an alternative, they're looking at it and that's good news".

On financing he stressed: "They've got a complete bid - BMW are obviously comfortable that everything's there."

Pressed on whether there was money behind Phoenix, he insisted: "Yup, I can say that, there's no problem" but refused to be drawn on details on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.

Mr Hemming conceded the exclusivity period - when BMW have pledged only to talk to Alchemy before the German firm's intended pull out date of May 1 - "has caused some difficulties" but there was still time for Phoenix to succeed.

"At the end of the day it's still a longshot, we're not saying we're through the woods or anything else like that, but the important thing is to keep battling away and trying to do the job."

Shadow chancellor Michael Portillo said although Phoenix "look like a white knight" it was a matter of commercial negotiation with business people, not politicians, best placed to make the final decision.

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