Blog: Dave LeggettChinese whispers

Dave Leggett | 5 September 2005

Sounds like there is growing frustration in the English West Midlands over the future of Longbridge and Nanjing Auto’s strategy for the assets it acquired from MG Rover’s administrators. The frustration is understandable, but I’m not surprised Nanjing’s intentions are taking time to become clear. I’m still amazed that Nanjing won out in the bidding over SAIC, but there you go. SAIC probably have themselves to blame (though they are probably not exactly all that cut-up over it) because they didn’t put in a bid for the whole shooting match, apparently holding out to buy some things cheaper at auction.

But I admired the spirit of the Evening Mail in Birmingham in its rather direct challenge to Nanjing Auto, even going as far as printing some of its front page in Mandarin – that has made a big splash on the web, so it’s top marks to the bright spark who dreamt that one up. The locals are right to ask questions over plans for Longbridge. How much 'lift and shift' will there be? How many jobs will there be in this country actually involved in making cars? Come on Mr Nanjing, let’s see a few of those cards you’re holding if not the entire hand (assuming, of course, that there is some sort of vaguely plausible business strategy beyond playing Chinese domestic politics and mixing it with SAIC).

Here are the twelve little questions that the Brum Evening Mail wants Nanjing Auto to answer; now-ish would be good. Alroight?

1. What is your business plan for Longbridge?

2. How much money are you investing in the factory?

3. Have you paid the reported purchase price of £53 million to administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers yet?

4. How many jobs can you realistically hope to create?

5. How many models are planned?

6. What is your annual production target?

7. Is the plan dependent on the successful outcome of your discussions with the GB Sports Car Company or can you go forward on your own?

8. Why do you propose to wait more than a year before resuming production at Longbridge?

9. Why have you not sent any replies to questions tabled by the unions at your meeting with them more than three weeks ago?

10. Why have you applied for planning permission to convert offices into residential accommodation in the South Engineering Block?

11. How many Nanjing workers are currently employed at Longbridge and how many more are due to arrive? What will be their roles in the business?

12. Will Arup be investing in the business or is their role purely advisory?

UK: ‘No more Chinese whispers’ plea as Chinese urged to come clean over plans for Rover


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