Iran General NewsIran State Automakers Eye Britain's MG Rover

Iran State Automakers Eye Britain’s MG Rover

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Reuters: Two of Iran’s state-owned auto manufacturers are considering buying MG Rover, the last major British-owned car manufacturer which collapsed this month, the semi-official ISNA student news agency said on Friday. Reuters

TEHRAN – Two of Iran’s state-owned auto manufacturers are considering buying MG Rover, the last major British-owned car manufacturer which collapsed this month, the semi-official ISNA student news agency said on Friday.

The 100-year-old carmaker, which once made the iconic Mini and the Land Rover, stopped production after failing to secure a rescue deal with China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.

“Iran Khodro and SAIPA are considering taking over Britain’s Rover,” ISNA quoted an unidentified official of Iran’s Ministry of Industries and Mines as saying.

Iran Khodro, the Middle East’s largest carmaker, has ambitious plans to produce 1 million cars a year by 2011 and has begun setting up factories in the Middle East, Africa and former Soviet states.

SAIPA is Iran’s second-largest car manufacturer.

Last week British administrators said there was no hope of selling MG Rover and that just under 5,000 workers would be made redundant immediately.

“SAIPA is a couple of steps ahead of Iran Khodro in the talks,” the Iranian official was quoted as saying.

The report did not specify which of MG Rover’s assets the Iranian automakers were interested in purchasing.

An Iran Khodro spokesman said the company had made no approach so far for MG Rover.

“We are considering it inside the company; it is just an option,” the spokesman told Reuters.

SAIPA officials could not be reached for comment.

Iran has a history of ties to the UK car industry. Its streets are packed with the ubiquitous Paykan, a carbon copy of the 1960s Hillman Hunter, which until this month was still in production at Iran Khodro.

ISNA said that a third potential buyer of MG Rover was Dastaan, which is owned by an Iranian politician from the south-eastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan.

London’s Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that senior British officials had held various meetings with the Iranian government since early 2004 over plans by Dastaan to assemble some 150,000 MG Rover cars a year in Iran.

It said Dastaan got cold feet about an initial trial shipment of fully assembled Rover vehicles when it learned the extent of Rover’s financial problems.

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