Unions condemn China deal at Rover

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The Independent Online

The move raised hopes that up to 2,000 jobs could be created at the plant in Longbridge, Birmingham. But Tony Woodley, the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, claimed the administrators could have struck a much better deal with MG Rover's original buyers, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. He said SAIC had planned to restart full production at Longbridge.

Despite this, he said, Nanjing, China's oldest car-maker, should try to build an alliance with SAIC to exploit the plant's full capacity.

SAIC, which has bought intellectual property rights to the Rover 25 and 75 models for £67m, is to begin talks with Nanjing this week about buying further MG Rover assets. However, it is threatening to block the Nanjing deal if it does not get its way.

MG Rover and its engines subsidiary, Powertrain, collapsed under heavy debts in April, with the loss of 6,000 jobs, ending 100 years of car-making at the site. Nanjing plans to create a design, engineering and manufacturing facility in Britain, with cars built under the MG marque.

Geoffrey Robinson, MP for Coventry North West and a former chief executive of Jaguar, said on Radio 4's Today programme: "We can only wish them luck but they are a very small company and will face formidable difficulties."