British car maker MG Rover has confirmed it is to halt production for three days due to low sales, the BBC reported on its website. The report said the Birmingham-based manufacturer is to shut down assembly of three models on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week.

The cars affected are the Rover 25, 45 and 75, and the move comes as the company struggles to reach its 200,000 vehicles a year sales target, the BBC said, noting that the Phoenix consortium, which bought MG Rover from BMW in 2000, has been hampered by a lack of investment funds.

An MG Rover spokeswoman told the BBC that the move at its Longbridge base would "balance dealers' stock levels".

She reportedly added: "A small halt in production at this time of the year is fairly standard practice in manufacturing, where a number of companies have an elongated Christmas shut-down."

The BBC said MG Rover has seen sales slump by almost 50% in the past three weeks, not helped by reports of a £70 million pensions deficit, and accusations by trade unions that the company's directors are giving themselves excessive pay deals.

The company also announced a £95 million loss in its recently released 2002 accounts and this has hit the company's ability to invest in new models, the report noted.

MG Rover's forthcoming new small car, the City Rover, for example, is based on Indian vehicle Tata Indica, and will be made by Tata in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, the BBC website report added.

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