Here's the latest chapter in the Rover saga: A little over a month after losing the bid for MG Rover to Nanjing Automotive Group (NAG), Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) reportedly has been engaging in active negotiations with BMW for additional MG Rover assets and could be ready to release Rover-based cars under its own brand as early as next year. In case you haven't already heard, SAIC was the front runner in the bidding war over Rover until NAG surprised everyone with a winning bid of $97 million. Upset over NAG's hostile move and unwilling to let its investment to develop cars based on Rover technology go to waste, SAIC vowed never to cooperate with NAG and appears to moving forward with plans of building the Rover models under its yet-to-be-determined independent brand.
The bad blood between SAIC and NAG actually goes back to two years ago…
In 2003, NAG had already reached a preliminary joint venture (JV) agreement with MG Rover only to see SAIC come in and steal the deal. The result was SAIC getting Rover?s technology and IP rights while NAG?s plant in Jiangsu was chosen for production. But the production possibility quickly evaporated as the JV fell apart and MG went belly up. Left with nothing but resentment towards SAIC, NAG?s top executives initiated secret meetings with Rover?s parent company ? Phoenix Venture Holdings, and received their support for their take-over plan in late June.
After the Rover auction result was announced in July, SAIC expressed ?their regret towards the bidding process and the end result of the MG Rover auction? and was, at one point, said to be considering legal action to halt the sale. SAIC also bitterly stated they ?will protect its IP rights on the Rover 25 and 75 models?, adding there will be no collaboration between the 2 Chinese auto makers. Clearly, after investing over $4.5 billion to develop its own brand, staffing 400 in Yizheng on the Rover project and an additional 100 in the U.K., adding the $100 million spent on acquiring rights to Rover technology, giving up at this point is simply not an option.
The battle over Rover is playing out like a page in Sun Tzu?s Art of War, and we will continue to bring you exclusive updates as the story unfolds?
Warning: the linking story is a very rough translation by Google. Click here if you prefer to read it in Chinese.