Alchemy Partners said it had ended discussions with BMW to buy its UK Rover subsidiary.

The UK venture capitalist group said the two sides had been "unable to agree on certain contractual matters," some of which arose on Thursday. It would not elaborate, while BMW refused to comment until it had prepared a formal statement.

The news sent shares in BMW down as much as 8 per cent.

The two sides, which had been in talks since February, had expected to agree terms this week or early next week after BMW refused to continue discussions with rival bidders the Phoenix consortium.

More to follow