Vanmaker in crisis as buyout collapses

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The future of the vanmaker LDV was in doubt last night after a planned management buyout of the troubled business fell through. The company, which has not built any vehicles for three months, employs 850 people at its Birmingham factory, and supports thousands more at component manufacturers.

LDV has been approached by two potential foreign investors, it has emerged, but there are fears they could attempt to buy the brand and move production overseas. The company has been pressing the Government for a bridging loan, of between £4m and £40m, to restart production and begin work on a new "green" vehicle.

It has also asked Revenue and Customs to defer demands for National Insurance payments of £966,000.

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, has distanced himself from decisions on LDV's future as its Russian parent company, Gaz, is owned by his friend Oleg Deripaska.

Ministers have rebuffed pleas for an emergency bridging loan, insisting Gaz should dip into its own pockets first.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said: "We understand the management buyout is no longer an option. It has not been approved by parent company, Gaz. LDV has now told us it has been approached by two potential investors. They are overseas companies.

"We are contacting these potential investors today to find more information about their level of interest in LDV."

The team behind the buyout had aimed to produce a new range of electric vans. Tony Woodley, joint leader of trade union Unite, said: "With the jobs of up to 6,000 workers hanging by a thread, urgency is of the essence."