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Rover models head for China

Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation is set to build Rover cars in China using British-made parts.

Officially the company says that no decision has yet been made, but sources close to the company have told the BBC that the plan is likely to proceed.

Jerry Blacket, policy director at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, confirmed approaches had been made in the UK by the Chinese: "Although the suppliers have been approached there is an issue over who owns the rights to the tooling of the 75.

"We wish it was different circumstances, but the fact that first-tier suppliers may be able to sell to SAIC offers some glimmer of hope to those companies hit hard by the MG Rover demise." There is still some confusion as to what SAIC will call the cars if they are made in China, as BMW still owns the rights to the Rover brand name.

SAIC, which wants to develop its own cars, does not need to make any further acquisitions to start production of the 75 and 45, which it already owns the intellectual rights for.

It is understood that SAIC, and others, have made approaches to the administrators of MG Rover about the possibility of buying equipment from the Longbridge production lines.

Nearly 200 of the 5,000 Longbridge workers who were made redundant are being offered work by Network Rail. The track company said it was looking to recruit 192 engineers, project managers, signallers and maintenance workers in and around the Birmingham area.

Network Rail deputy chief executive Iain Coucher said the salaries would be “competitive“, if not comparable to those at the Longbridge plant.

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