Surgery For The English Patient
The news that BMW was going to sell its loss-making (1999 losses alone were 1 billion Euros) subsidiary Rover provoked an understandably strong reaction in Britain. Some estimated that 50,000 jobs (including those of suppliers) could be lost and BMW’s name was mud with workers, unions and the British Government, which accused BMW of lying. Undeterred, BMW began breaking up the Rover group, selling Land Rover to Ford for 3 billion Euros and the Longbridge car factory to venture capitalists Alchemy Partners, with BMW writing off debts of £2 million.
BMW is retaining the factory at Cowley, where the new Mini will be made. Alchemy plans to re-name Rover as MG Cars and to move away from volume production to make sports cars and sports saloons. This would keep the Longbridge factory open, but with a much reduced workforce.
Amid the thousands of paragraphs criticising BMW, some industry pundits have questioned the vulnerability of the German group and there are rumours of larger companies (VW and Ford are two who have been mentioned) sniffing around BMW. The major shareholder in BMW is the Quandt family, whose members insist that the company will remain independent. More details in the April issue of TYRES & ACCESSORIES.