BMW Receives Rival Offer for Rover
MUNICH, Germany (AP) — Automaker BMW said Friday it has received a
rival offer for its ailing British subsidiary Rover from a
group led by a onetime Rover executive but gave few details on the bid.
BMW said it had received a letter outlining the new proposal from a
group that includes John Towers, a former Rover CEO who
left the company in 1996. The luxury German carmaker said it would
review the offer.
Last month, BMW announced its plan to sell the money-losing Rover to
Alchemy, a group of British venture capitalists. No price
was ever announced, leading to speculation that BMW was either giving
Rover away or actually paying Alchemy to take the
British automaker off its hands.
Alchemy plans to buy Rover's main Longbridge plant in central England
and turn it into a niche producer of sports cars under
the name MG Car Co. Alchemy has no experience with car manufacturing,
however, and significant job losses are anticipated
by the unions.
The move by Towers means BMW must now consider the new offer against
the rival bid from Alchemy. BMW said it was leading
parallel negotiations with both Alchemy and Towers.
Towers has hinted that he would make a bid that would keep Rover as a
volume car producer, contradicting Alchemy's plans
to slim down production.
Speaking before Towers launched his bid, British Trade Secretary
Stephen Byers said Towers' plan ``offers a better prospect
than perhaps anything else.''
``He believes that by working together with the work force there is a
real chance of a far better prospect for the future than
is being offered by Alchemy,'' Byers told the British Broadcasting
A union leader welcomed the new bid by Towers, who was at Rover for
eight years and is now chief executive of components
``We are pleased that this bid has been tabled and we hope it will be
considered as a serious alternative,'' said Roger Lyons,
general secretary of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union.
Meanwhile, Britain announced a $3.2 million aid package Friday to help
companies that supply goods to Rover survive the
automaker's proposed sale.
The money will go toward support, advice and training for the firms
most affected by the move.