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09 April 2005

It's Over For Rover (Again)

By some strange twist of bureaucratic planning, it was All Fool's Day 1999 when the BBC News web site proclaimed the future of Rover's Longbridge plant had been secured following a deal between the Government and Rover's German parent company BMW. The 'deal' involved UK taxpayers handing over £UK200 million to BMW, the private, foreign owners of Rover - a fact about which Tony B.Liar was "delighted" as he looked forward to a "world class plant for the next century".

As his is his won't in his bouts of non-specific political verbosity, Tone neglected to mention quite how far into the next century he expected this world class plant to last and, just six years later, Rover has finally collapsed amid questions about £200m of cash and assets missing from Rover's published accounts.

On Friday, contact with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) who were originally in on the deal to save Longbridge, and then out again, was available only via their broker in London NM Rothschild.

Today it looks like the four directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings who have managed to pay themselves in excess of UK£30 million since buying Rover for UK£10 from BMW in May 2000, may be required to meet some of the cost of the £400 million shortfall which has appeared in the company’s pension fund.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said:
"There will obviously be inquiries into what has happened in Rover since the deal with BMW. I think we can look at all the consequences of what has happened in the past at a later date."
Alternatively, Gordon, we could look into all the consequence of what has happened now, while the government and people responsible are still officially in charge and while it's still relevant to workers at Longbridge.

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