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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 May, 2005, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Iran 'loses interest' in MG Rover
A Rover car in a showroom
Administrators say they have hundreds of bids for parts of Rover
Iran's car-makers are no longer in the running for stricken UK group MG Rover, the country's industry minister says.

In Iranian press interviews, Eshagh Jahangiri said MG Rover's sale to China of the rights to its 25 and 75 models meant it was no longer attractive.

"Iran has cancelled [its interest in] buying Rover," he told the Donya-ye Eqtesad newspaper.

MG Rover went into administration in April after takeover talks collapsed, and is currently seeking a buyer.

The talks had been with Chinese car-maker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), to which MG Rover's owners had sold intellectual property rights to the two cars.

Administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are still trying to see if a bid for the whole firm can be accepted, although they say they have had 350 expressions of interest for parts of the firm.

On Sunday, a PwC spokesman said the firm had nothing to add on the subject of Iran's interest.

Still interested?

Three Iranian car-makers - Saipa, Khodro, and Dastaan - were thought to be possible bidders.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Iranian embassy in London said that the government firm Khodro had "expressed an interest" in Rover.

"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 on Sunday, Mr Jahangiri said the deal was off.

Since China already owns the rights to the Rover 25 and 75 - cars which Iran had been interested in building in the UK - there was little point in making a bid, he said.

MG Rover's plant at Longbridge was not attractive enough without the car rights.

"We don't need its machinery," Mr Jahangiri was quoted as saying.

An offer from privately owned Dastaan is still theoretically possible, since the firm is privately owned.

Dastaan was due to take 2,000 cars from Rover before it collapsed.

A Russian firm, Ruspromavto, has already denied rumours that it could be interested in buying MG Rover.

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