The Phoenix Consortium which
yesterday safeguarded thousands of jobs when it bought Rover, is
believed to have held talks with Honda over a possible link.
And executives working for the
group have not ruled out links with any other companies to help Rover
survive in the cut-throat car world.
Rover was returned to British
hands yesterday when Phoenix signed a contract to buy the firm for £10
It will receive a £500
million loan from the German giants to help it get going, and has £200
million backing from an American bank.
Former Rover executive John
Towers wants to return the company to profit within two years.
He said that BMW had tried to
turn Rover into a premier brand in a similar way to the transformation
at BMW 35 years ago.
Talks with Honda are believed
to have taken place over sharing resources for further development.
Rover is a tiny player on the
world stage, and it costs hundreds of millions of pounds to design,
produce and promote new models.
Trade and Industry Secretary
Stephen Byers joined union officials, workers, business leaders and
car dealers in welcoming the outcome.
And West Midlands MEP Liz
Lynne, who urged BMW to listen to the Phoenix Consortium’s plans,
also backed the deal.
"It has been a
white-knuckle rollercoaster ride between hope and despair these last
"This is the best
possible outcome both for the tens of thousands of workers whose
jobs are now safe at least for the medium term, and for the economic
health of the region’s manufacturing and engineering heartland.
"I am under no
illusions - I know there will still have to be some redundancies.
Rover still faces a battle to complete the task of modernisation
begun under BMW - but it now produces very high quality cars and has
been given a great chance to forge a long term strategy for
She also paid tribute to the
‘inspiring leadership’ of John Hemming, the Birmingham businessman
and Liberal Democrat council group leader who founded the Phoenix
consortium and played a key role in securing the deal with BMW.
"John Hemming never
wavered in his belief that there was a better future for Rover than
that proposed by Alchemy. The Phoenix proposal is based on sound
business principles, not sentiment."
"It is possible Rover
will be looking for aid, not as subsidy but to support internal
restructuring and modernisation.
will be very important that the European Commission does not delay a
decision on ratifying such plans as they did under BMW. I shall be
making every effort to ensure clarity and speed in