Iranian firms in talks with MG Rover

IRANIAN companies Saipa and Iran Khodro held buy-out talks with stricken UK car firm MG Rover last week. There have so far been over 200 expressions of interest in the company, which went into administration on April 8.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  May 1, 2005

IRANIAN companies Saipa and Iran Khodro held buy-out talks with stricken UK car firm MG Rover last week. There have so far been over 200 expressions of interest in the company, which went into administration on April 8. Joint administrator Tony Lomas said other than enquiries from the Middle East there had also been interest from southeast Asia, India, Russia, China and from within the UK. “We will be considering all expressions of interest we receive, where ever they come from,” said Lomas. The Iranian embassy in London confirmed that officials from car manufacturers in Iran were planning to hold further talks about buying the rights and assets of MG Rover. However, both state-owned firms have since released statements denying they want to purchase Rover. “Iran Khodro has no such plan to purchase the British company,” said Mojtaba Shivapour, deputy managing director of Iran Khodro, which is the largest carmaker in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the managing director of Saipa, Iran’s second carmaker behind Iran Khodro, made a similar denial last week. “We were contacted by Rover over a month ago now,” Ahmad Ghale Bani told Arabian Business. “But because of the uncertain and precarious situation that the British Rover company finds itself in, we are not intending to purchase it,” he added. Meanwhile, a smaller private Iranian company called Dastaan has obtained permission to start up a Rover production line in Iran, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry. However, it is unlikely Dastaan would pose a serious threat to the more established Saipa and Iran Khodro. MG Rover went into administration last month after the collapse of talks over a possible rescue tie-up with China’s largest car marker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). The Chinese firm, which owns the intellectual rights to the models, plans to build Rover cars in China. What SAIC does not yet have are the rights to use the Rover name. This is still held by BMW, which owned Rover from 1994 to 2000. The Chinese are said to be confident they can secure from BMW the right to call the Shanghai-built cars Rovers. British prime minister Tony Blair has made US$286 million available to help those made redundant at MG Rover and the companies that supply it. About 5000 of the 6000 MG Rover employees have been laid off since Rover collapsed, and now administrators for the stricken car maker say that a further 203 workers must go.

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