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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Mystery over Iranian MG Rover bid
MG Rover cars
Thousands of finished Rover cars had been destined for Iran
Confusion surrounds the intentions of three Iranian carmakers reported as forming a joint venture to take over MG Rover and its Longbridge car plant.

Reports on Friday said car firms Saipa, Khodro, and Dastaan were told by the Iranian government to make the offer.

A spokesman for the Iranian embassy in London admitted government firm Khodro had "expressed an interest" in Rover.

He said he was unaware of any deal with Dastaan, which was due to take 2,000 cars from Rover before it collapsed.

The Iranian admission came as sales figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed registration of new MG and Rover cars down 90% in April on the same month a year earlier.

'Totally different'

"We are studying the possibility for Khodro to take over Rover and its factory in the UK," a spokesman from the economic section of the Iranian embassy in London said.

"But Dastaan is a totally different concern. It is privately owned and had the contract to buy 2,000 finished Rover cars for sale in Iran, but Rover then went into administration.

"We are waiting to see what will happen now."

On Friday, a story in the Daily Telegraph quoted Dastaan's UK consultant Peter Linghorn as saying the three rival firms were "willing to take over the whole thing and kick-start production".

Samand car made by Khodro of Iran
The Samand is one of the many models manufactured by Khodro

However, the Iranian economic spokesman said he was unaware Dastaan had a representative in the UK, and that there had been no correspondence with the embassy.

The BBC's correspondent in Tehran, Frances Harrison, said there had been no announcement of any three-way bid for Rover from the Iranian firms.

"However there has been ongoing interest in the Rover situation in Iran for more than a week now," she said.

Khodro is the largest carmaker in the Middle East, while Saipa is the second-biggest carmaker in Iran. Dastaan is a smaller private motor company.

"This is not a commercially driven deal, it is about enhancing relationships," Mr Linghorn told the newspaper.

He said the Iranian motor trio would "re-open all the Rover lines; the 75, the 45 and 25, MG sports".

Interested parties

MG Rover went into administration on 8 April after the collapse of talks over a possible rescue tie-up with China's largest car maker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

A spokesman for receivers PwC said they could not confirm specific approaches for MG Rover.

However they had earlier said that there had been approaches from 200 different parties around the world interested in buying Rover, and that there had been inquiries from Iran.

Meanwhile, total new April UK car registrations fell 4% on April 2004 with "the dip largely being dominated by MG Rover" according to the SMMT.

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