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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Future of MG Rover site discussed
Longbridge Works - April 2006
Machinery remains ready to use within the Longbridge works
Talks about the future of the former MG Rover site are due to take place, a year since the car maker collapsed.

More than 6,000 jobs were lost when the firm, based at Longbridge, Birmingham, went bust. It was later sold to Nanjing Automotive Company (NAC).

A 10-strong delegation from Nanjing Municipal Government will tour the plant and hold talks with NAC and the leader of Birmingham City Council.

On Wednesday, NAC said it was about to restart car-making at Longbridge.

Get-out clause

Speaking through an interpreter, Nanjing's UK chairman Wang Hongbiao told the BBC: "We are going to resume production of MGTF here."

The BBC has learned that cars could go on sale from July 2007 and Chinese firm Nanjing has said it is keen to re-employ ex-Longbridge workers.

NAC signed a new 33-year lease with the owners of the Longbridge site earlier this year which contains a get-out clause allowing it to walk away.

Two production lines remain intact, including the MGTF sports car line.

'Increased economic activity'

Some Midland firms have been approached to make parts for Nanjing and more orders are expected.

Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, said the talks on Friday were about developing "the highest level of political intimacy" between the two parties.

It is hoped a long-term relationship can be established to boost job hopes in Birmingham.

He said: "The closer links with Nanjing which I hope this visit will foster have the potential to bring even more benefits in terms of increased economic activity between our two areas."

Nanjing's acquisition of MG Rover only included the rights to use the MG brand. The Rover brand is still owned by Rover Group's former parent BMW.

MG Rover went bust in 2005, at a cost of about 6,000 jobs, and was then bought by Nanjing for 50m ($86m).

See Nanjing's UK boss outline the firm's plans

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