Fleet News

Sales rocket as Rover fortunes fluctuate

ROVER sales are rocketing while its future rests on the outcome of buy-out negotiations, which began on Tuesday, between owner BMW and the Midlands-based Phoenix Consortium. The turnaround in BMW's views of the consortium led by former Rover chief executive John Towers, which had been dismissed initially by the Germans because of doubts about its financial backing, came after a tumultuous weekend which saw Alchemy Partners pull out of the bidding.

Rover expressed its hopes in the Towers' consortium, as well as reporting a '300%' increase in April sales, due to be confirmed this week with publication of official Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders figures. A Rover spokesman said: 'April looks set to be an incredibly successful month with sales up about 300% thanks to a good retail sales campaign. However, the current troubles are damaging our relationship with corporate customers who are looking into the long-term business

opportunities.'

Of the Towers bid, he said: 'I hope he can put a package together. There's no doubt Towers has a commitment to fleet.' But time is running out for Rover. In a statement from Prof Werner Samann, chairman of Rover and a member of BMW's board of management, reads: 'We will now deal with great emphasis the bid of the consortium led by John Towers. At the moment the path does not only present itself as passable, but is the only possibility to continue Rover car operations in the desired sense - otherwise a closure is unavoidable.'

BMW will make a decision on the future of Rover by the end of this month. Alchemy pulled out of negotiations because it claimed BMW had introduced additional demands which made the situation 'untenable'.But a spokesman said: 'If there is a chance to bid for MG then we would have a look at that. This is not a ploy to change BMW's mind, it just seems it has had a change of policy.'

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