MG Rover will soon choose a partner with which it will develop a range of mid-sized cars, product development chief Rob Oldaker said at a news conference on Monday. The company will make a decision in three to four months.

“We are engaged in talks with a number of potential partners,” Oldaker said. He wouldn’t name the companies but said three European groups were negotiating with MG Rover.

The Birmingham-based company wants help from another automotive company to develop a new platform on which to base replacements for its ageing Honda-based Rover 25 and 45 models and for future mid-range MG saloons, Oldaker said. The new platform is due for launch at the end of 2003.

MG Rover denied press reports last year that it had been approached by Malaysian carmaker Proton about joint development of a new model that would be manufactured in both countries.

Meanwhile, PSA Citroen of France said it had no interest in such a partnership.

A spokesman for MG Rover France told the news agency AFP that car parts suppliers, rather than established automakers, could also be among the potential partners. There is a growing trend for parts makers to share development and tooling costs with automakers.

MG Rover sold 205,000 vehicles worldwide in 2000 and had set a target of slightly fewer than 200,000 for this year, sales and marketing director John Parkinson said at the news conference.

The five-year recovery plan envisages average annual sales of 200,000 cars, a return to profit in 2002, an update of all models and the launch of new products such as MG saloons, Parkinson added.