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The BBC's Jane Bennett-Powell
looks back at events of the past few days
 real 56k

Sir Ken Jackson Secretary of the Engineering Union
"It has got to be a realistic plan"
 real 28k

Hubert Bergmann, BMW spokesman
"We have stopped negotiating with Alchemy"
 real 28k

The BBC's Stephen Evans
"The salvation of Rover seems possible"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Phoenix optimism on Rover talks
Rover workers are pushing for the Phoenix bid
Rover workers are pushing for the Phoenix bid
The Phoenix consortium which hopes to buy Rover Cars from BMW completed its first day of detailed talks with the German firm on Tuesday.

Phoenix boss John Towers said that his consortiurm had "detailed and positive" talks at BMW's offices in London.
John Towers
John Towers of Phoenix is meeting BMW

"We have been through a heck of a lot of detailed stuff today, and it's also been extremely postive," he added.

The talks are likely to continue for at least another day, after the consortium spent the weekend examining Rover's books.

The Phoenix group of Midlands businessmen has reportedly secured 200m on backing from City firms - countering BMW's suggestions last week that they did not have enough financial clout to put together a viable bid.

BMW has set a deadline of the end of this month before it plans to shut down Rover's car operations, with the loss of thousands of jobs in the West Midlands.

New bid by Alchemy?

Meanwhile, the firm that withdrew from the talks on Friday signalled that it may now be willing to re-open discussions.

The head of venture capital firm Alchemy, Jon Moulton, said the door was "still open" to further negotiations despite its decision to pull out of a deal to acquire the loss making car maker.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday that there had been "gentle contact" with BMW over the past three days. However, a spokesman for the German carmaker told the BBC that BMW didn't see any reason to resume talks with Alchemy.

Brinkmanship

Although BMW had favoured the Alchemy bid, the firm no longer has the same advantage over Phoenix it once had.

When Alchemy pulled out of negotiations, BMW granted Phoenix its first detailed look at Rover's books.

Jon Moulton, managing partner at Alchemy Partners
Jon Moulton of Alchemy: "Door still open"
The consortium now has the measure of the task and can tailor its bid to suit.

The BBC's industry correspondent Stephen Evans said Alchemy's decision to walk away was seen by BMW as hard bargaining.

"The BMW board took a very dim view of that kind of brinkmanship and you get an impression that they don't like this way of dealing," he said.

"They do deal in a very literal manner, a very straight manner.

"So it may yet be that BMW takes the view: 'Maybe we thought you had the best offer but you walked away and we don't like that kind of thing.'"

Blair pledges support

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Blair had said he was personally committed to protecting jobs threatened by BMW's decision to dispose of Rover but it is not yet clear what measures he can take. Mr Blair issued a statement saying his government would work "night and day" to secure the best interests of Rover workers and the West Midlands.

"I and the government stand ready to do whatever we can for the workers at Longbridge and the region as a whole," he said.

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See also:

01 May 00 | Business
Blair's pledge to Rover workers
30 Apr 00 | Business
Phoenix 'needs government cash'
28 Apr 00 | Business
BMW threat to close Rover
28 Apr 00 | Business
Can Phoenix turn Rover around?
28 Apr 00 | Business
Alchemy shies away from Rover risk
28 Apr 00 | Business
Alchemy bid timetable
02 May 00 | UK
In the shadow of Longbridge
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