Nanjing unlikely to sell MG Rover
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Nanjing unlikely to sell MG Rover

Nanjing Automobile is unlikely to sell its MG Rover brand to British businessman David James.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 17:51 IST

Chinese carmaker Nanjing Automobile is unlikely to sell its MG Rover brand to British businessman David James, despite British media reports that he wants to buy it, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.

Several British newspapers said in their Friday editions that James' Kimber consortium wanted to build two-seater cars using the MG Rover brand and move manufacturing away from the former UK carmaker's site at Longbridge in central England.

A source familiar with the situation said no deal between James and Nanjing was imminent. The Chinese carmaker still planned to resume production at Longbridge, the source added.

"If there was a deal imminent, we would be aware of it," the source said.

James wanted to build a car based on DaimlerChrysler's discontinued Smart Roadster vehicle, according to unsourced reports in the Financial Times and Times newspapers.

Neither James nor Nanjing could immediately be reached for comment.

Smart declined to comment on whether it was in talks with James but said no contract had been signed.

"More than one interested party has shown interest in the roadster after we stopped production in November last year. We don't comment on ongoing negotiations. The fact is that no contract has been signed now," a Smart spokeswoman said.

Nanjing bought MG Rover out of bankruptcy last year. The British manufacturing icon collapsed under debts of 1.4 billion pounds ($2.43 billion) in April 2005, leading to 5,000 job losses at its main plant.

Nanjing had said it aimed to revive production at Longbridge and make up to 80,000 cars with the MG Rover badge each year in Britain, but the plans have looked increasingly precarious with no deal signed six months after it bought the assets, sources familiar with the situation have said.

Nanjing is in talks to extend its temporary lease on the Longbridge plant site for another six months with property developer St Modwen Properties Plc. A deal was expected to be announced on Feb 22, a St Modwen spokesman said.

The Financial Times said production would move to a smaller site in nearby Coventry under James' plan.

A source close to Nanjing said there was no announcement imminent and Nanjing remained committed to resuming production at Longbridge.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 17:51 IST