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Profitability key to MG Rover paying back £500m BMW loan in 2004

MG Rover will begin repaying the £500m loan to BMW from 2004 - if it has moved into profit.

The loan paid in instalments is not due until 2049 subject to agreed clauses, according to an MG Rover spokesman. "As and when MG moves into profit there are repayment requirements of £25m a year or 25% of annual earnings, whichever is less," he said.

MG Rover chief executive Kevin Howe is confident of making modest profits next year, predicting worldwide sales of 210,000 on the back of new MG saloons, MGF sports cars and a R75 estate. He expects to retail 190,000 units worldwide this year, down 15,000 on last year.

Rover has continued to distance itself from its former owner after signing a preliminary agreement with First National Motor Finance, part of Abbey National. The deal, which will provide consumer and dealer finance, will replace the current contract with BMW Finance.

Mr Howe said the contract would provide "competitive retail finance deals" for customers, acting as a powerful sales tool for the dealer network.

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