BREAKING NEWS: UK: Bidder alleges government favouring foreign consortia in MG Rover sell-off
The leader of one of the British groups that wants to re-start production of the MG sports car at the shuttered factory in Longbridge, Birmingham, has criticised the government for allegedly favouring foreign consortia which want to "lift and shift" production out of Britain, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The paper said that David James, the businessman who was drafted in by ministers to stop London's Millennium Dome project from failing in 2000, had said his £40 million bid should go unconditional on Thursday morning, when a deal to sell parts of the Rover line to another manufacturer is signed.
Administrator Price Waterhouse Coopers reportedly is widely expected to agree a sale of all or part of MG Rover, which collapsed in early April with £1.4 billion of debts and the loss of 6,000 jobs, over the next 48 hours.
James complained to the Telegraph on Wednesday that his bid was encountering "unexpected difficulties" which could reflect government influence.
He reportedly said: "Our bid stands as a valid British bid backed by British money to ensure the continuation of production at Longbridge. But we are angry that different standards are being applied to the bids.
"We cannot see any logic in the national British interest for the administrators with the support of the Department for Trade and Industry to look with favour on any bid that does not involve the resumption of production at Longbridge.
"My concern is that there may be some misperception of where the best national interest lies. The issue is unequivocable and I can't see why the DTI doesn't go for the proposal that offers value for the creditors and ensures resumption of production at Longbridge, rather than the narrower objective of achieving a large pay-out to creditors."
According to the Daily Telegraph, James is offering to restart the manufacture of MG cars and engines at Longbridge, with the creation of 500 jobs in the first instance, through his Project Kimber consortium.
A deal to sell on parts of the Rover line, possibly to Chinese manufacturer Nanjing Auto, was due to be agreed on Thursday morning, according to the paper.
A DTI spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: "No, the government is not favouring foreign bids. It is not for the government to influence proceedings. This is a matter for the administrators."
A spokesman for PWC reportedly added: "The administrators consider all the bids they receive and they work for the benefit of creditors."
The Daily Telegraph said it understood that PWC could have a deal agreed by Thursday or Friday - there are thought to be five bidders: one other British consortium and three foreign groups who want to move the production line to China, Russia or Iran.