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MG Rover 'is lost'

Chinese company Nanging Automobile's plans for Longbridge remain unclear four months after it bought the remains of MG Rover out of administration for £53 million.

David Malpass of Accelerate, the Birmingham-based motor industry support organisation, yesterday gave an update on the position at Longbridge to more than 100 delegates at a conference organised by Black Country Chamber and Business Link.

"The Nanjing position is uncertain," Malpass said.

"We have had a declaration that they will invest at Longbridge. But to this end the Government is taking a bit of a reserved view and are waiting to see where and when this investment will take place.

"We are not expecting an immediate announcement," he added.

However, delegates also heard automotive industry expert Garel Rhys, of Cardiff University Business School, express scepticism about the resumption of car production at Longbridge following MG Rover's collapse in April this year.

"It looks as if MG Rover is lost," Prof Rhys said.

"With every day that passes it is becoming more and more difficult for anything to come back to Longbridge."

The conference, staged at Wolverhampton Science Park under the title "Moving up a Gear", was aimed at convincing local supply chain companies that they have a good future despite the gloom surrounding the crash of MG Rover.

Following the collapse of MG Rover, a total of £870,000 had been spent on helping nearly 50 Longbridge supply companies in the area diversify and find new customers and 142 jobs had been secured.

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