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The BBC's Andrew Newman
"The Alchemy business plan will give workers little cheer"
 real 56k

Monday, 17 April, 2000, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Alchemy plans sports car

Alchemy wants to focus on the MG marque
Rover buyer Alchemy Partners plans to link up with luxury car maker Lotus to make an MG sports car.

The venture capital firm wants to develop the car by 2002.

Alchemy hopes to revive the MG brand by taking it back to motor racing, eventually competing at the Le Mans race.

The company unveiled a draft business plan on Monday evening, but it still didn't offer any clues as to how many jobs will be lost at the Rover plant in Longbridge.

Taking MG to the US

Alchemy had previously said that it wants to turn Rover into a niche car maker, focused on the MG marque.

It now also wants to take MG back into the US.

MG cars have not been sold in the US for 20 years and Alchemy said it would "take urgent action to re-enter this market".

In its draft business plan it also said it hopes to take on contract production of other cars.

Alchemy has already approached Lotus Engineering, a division of Lotus Cars, with plans to develop a sports model.

The Lotus group makes sports cars and used to run a Formula One Team. Lotus Engineering provides car makers with technical expertise, services and engineering support.

No news on jobs

Alchemy provided no further clues as to future job losses, when it unveiled its business plan.

Up to 4,000 jobs are expected to go at the Birmingham plant if the Alchemy bid is completed, as it intends to scale back production.

The West Midlands is expected to be badly hit by the sale - some estimates are that up to 50,000 jobs in the region depend on Rover.

Alchemy says it will work with a government task force to minimise the social impact of its purchase of the loss-making subsidiary of German car company BMW.

The company has promised to honour workers' redundancy rights.

But Tony Woodley of the Transport and General Workers Union said the "significant things are what they have failed to tell us; they have failed to indentify the number of job losses, they have failed to tell us how many will keep their jobs and they haven't told us what redundancy terms they are offering to the many thousands who we know will lose their jobs."

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers has called on BMW to give serious consideration to a new offer for Rover.

This new bid is expected to safeguard more jobs than the Alchemy bid.

The bid has come from a consortium including Rover's former chief executive John Towers, and is thought to be worth about 2bn.

Alchemy boss Jon Moulton dismissed the new bid as not being a real competitor, saying there was "no real sign" that it had any finance behind it.

Being a small mass-producer of cars was "a doomed strategy", he said.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Byers 'not guilty' over Rover
09 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Millions to retrain Rover workers
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