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Extended: Sale of Rover brand agreed to SAIC

BMW has agreed to sell the Rover brand to Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) for a fraction of the £200m sum discussed prior to the collapse of MG Rover last April.

SAIC has now agreed to pay a figure believed to be just over £11m for the Rover name, including ownership of the Viking long ship logo. It paid £67m for design rights, including the Rover 25 and 75, bringing the total investment to around £78m. It is believed the Chinese-made Rover-based vehicles will be sold in Europe in 2007/2008.

However, as a result of Ford’s ownership of the Land Rover Brand, the deal is not clear cut. A spokesman for Ford tells AM: “When Ford acquired Land Rover from BMW in 2000 it secured significant restrictions on the use of the Rover name. Those restrictions remain in place regardless of ownership of the Rover name.”

Angela Stangroom, group communications manager for BMW, says: “A sales contract for the Rover trademark has been signed but completion is conditional on whether Ford exercises its rights within an agreed period of time.”

She added that this timeframe was “coming to an end.”

German publication KFZ-Betrieb reports the findings of a European Rover Dealer Association (ERDA) delegation visit to both SAIC and Nanjing Automotive (NAC). It states SAIC and NAC plan to jointly produce a new generation of cars, starting with a facelifted Rover 75.

They will work together with European designers and ex-MG Rover engineers to ensure acceptable build quality for sale outside of China. Nanjing Automotive, paid Longbridge administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers £53m for the factory’s production lines and assets last July.

The first Chinese deliveries are expected in March next year.



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