The chances of saving the ailing British car company MG Rover look increasingly slim after the collapse of talks with China’s biggest car-maker. The latest word from the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation is that it is highly unlikely to agree a rescue deal. The 6,000 workers have been sent home as administrators try to find new investors.
However union leader Tony Woodley admitted that will be difficult. He said: “We’re here today and fighting on under difficult circumstances for our members, but no one underestimates the task ahead. If it was difficult five years ago when BMW disgracefully walked away, it’s doubly difficult today.” BMW lost 4.5 billion euros in the six year it ran the company.
The losses continued under Phoenix Venture Holdings, though the directors paid themselves significant salaries and pensions. The British government has put up 9.5 million euros so that workers can be paid this week while talks go on to find new investors.
The European Commission’s spokesman on Competition Jonathan Todd was asked about the legality of that. He replied: “Obviously, the Commission’s overall aim is that there should be no distortion of competition within the single market, but having said that companies can qualify for rescue aid.” This could not have come at a worse time for Britain’s ruling Labour Party, which is campaigning on its economic record to win re-election on May 5. It is defending a number of slim majorities in parliamentary seats around MG Rover’s main plant in the Midlands of England.