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Nanjing gives assurances on Longbridge's future

MG Rover's new Chinese owners told Birmingham civic leaders they were committed to continuing manufacturing at Longbridge.

Representatives from Birmingham City Council who met with officials from Nanjing Automotive Corporation (NAC) for their first talks yesterday were seeking assurances from the Chinese firm over their long term commitment to the city.

Speaking after the meeting, council leader Mike Whitby said he was assured that Nanjing was serious about continuing manufacturing at the former MG Rover works. Whitby accepted an invitation from officials at the firm to visit the company at its base in Nanjing.

A joint statement said that Whitby met with Wang Hong-Biao, director and vice president of Nanjing.

The statement said they "had a fruitful dialogue and both of them understand the challenges faced by NAC. However, they are committed to the success of the business of NAC.

"Coun Whitby is reassured by the commitment of NAC to maintain a manufacturing presence in Longbridge."

The council will offer support by helping Nanjing access the workforce in the Longbridge area. The local authority will also provide training to give people skills required by Nanjing's operations.

Whitby said after the meeting: "Our desire is to make sure a manufacturing presence is maintained at Longbridge and in the joint statement a solid commitment has been made."

The commitment could help allay fears of former MG Rover workers that Nanjing has no long term plans to manufacture cars at Longbridge.

Concerns had been raised over Nanjing's intentions by unions who had urged the company to work with its Chinese rivals Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation (SAIC).

Union sources had claimed that workers are intending to take direct action to resist any attempts by Nanjing to lift and shift equipment back to the Far East. It has also emerged that Nanjing have only a short term license to occupy Longbridge and remove equipment.

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