Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, June 5, 1998 Published at 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK


BMW out, VW set to get Rolls-Royce

Up for sale: the fate of Britain's famous luxury car maker is set to be decided

The future of Britain's most prestigious motoring company, Rolls-Royce, is currently being decided during a meeting of shareholders of Vickers, the parent company of Rolls-Royce motors.

BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones: "Volkswagen seems certain to win the day."
The German car maker Volkswagen is strongly tipped to win the battle with its £430m offer for the Vickers-owned firm.

The shareholders have already rejected a rival bid by the Bavarian car company BMW, which had offered to pay £340m.

A question-mark hangs over a wildcard entry from a group of Rolls fans calling themselves Crewe Motors, after the town in which the cars are made.

Five minutes before the shareholders meeting opened the group managed to secure enough pledges to finance its bid, and a vote on the future of Rolls-Royce was delayed while the Vickers board was considering the Crewe Motors offer.

However, minutes before the vote started, the Vickers board formally rejected the Rolls fans's bid.

A long and winding road

The battle for ownership of Rolls-Royce has taken many twists and turns, with Vickers initially backing the bid from BMW, which already makes engines for the company.

[ image: Volkswagen is the hot favourite]
Volkswagen is the hot favourite
But Vickers switched allegiance when Volkswagen waded in with a higher offer.

VW's hand was strengthened on Thursday with news that its Audi subsidiary had agreed to buy Vickers' Cosworth engines unit for £120m. The deal is conditional on the Rolls sale being sealed.

"This is excellent news for all concerned and underlines the case for our shareholders approving the sale of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to Volkswagen," said Vickers chairman Sir Colin Chandler.

But VW Chief Executive Ferdinand Piech refused to see the sale as a done deal.

[ image: BMW: out of the race]
BMW: out of the race
He told VW's annual shareholders' meeting: "In the event that we don't win the bid, we will realise an entry into the top luxury segment by other means. In this case our goal would be to go it alone."

Gavin Green, Editor in Chief of Car magazine: "Rolls-Royce has dropped a bit in technical excellence"
But with 95% of Vickers shares held by institutional investors who are almost certain to follow the board's advice, pundits feel sure Volkswagen will win comfortably.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Business Contents

Your Money
Market Data
Business Basics
Relevant Stories

31 Mar 98 | oldBusiness
BMW pledges £1bn Rolls-Royce investment

14 Nov 97 | oldBusiness
VW steps into battle for Rolls-Royce

12 Nov 97 | oldBusiness
Mayflower abandons Vickers bid after BMW's warning

27 Oct 97 | UK
Rivals gear up for Rolls-Royce Cars sale

Internet Links

Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars

VW history

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Microsoft trial mediator welcomed

Vodafone takeover battle heats up

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

NatWest bid timetable frozen

No longer Liffe as we know it

France faces EU action over electricity

Inquiry into energy provider loyalty

The growing threat of internet fraud

Christmas turkey strike vote

Brown considers IMF job

Train robbery game hope for SCi

From Sport
League to rule on Sky shares

Mannesmann fights back

Online share dealing triples

Chinese imports boost US trade gap

Pace enters US cable heartland

The rapid rise of Vodafone

Storehouse splits up Mothercare and Bhs

Brown's bulging war-chest

The hidden shopping bills

Europe's top net stock

House passes US budget

Rate fears as sales soar

Safeway faces cash demand probe

Mitchell intervenes to help shipyard

Maxwell pledge to pensioners

Power cuts spark union warning

New factory creates 500 jobs

Drugs company announces 300 jobs

Oil reaches nine-year high

'Asian management culture must change'

US 'prepared for Millennium Bug'

Gucci on a spending spree