Ford informed BMW today that it would be exercising its right to buy the Rover name from the German automaker and also announced that it will not be putting it up for sale. The Detroit automaker purchased Land Rover from BMW in 2000 and has since had the option to buy the Rover name or at least first refusal rights if BMW tried to sell the name to a third party. Well, that's exactly what BMW tried to do and had reportedly arranged a deal already with Chinese automaker Shanghai Automotive Corp. (SAIC) for the Rover name. From the rubble of the MG Rover collapse, SAIC emerged with the design rights for a pair of Rover models, the Rover 25 and 75. Looks like they won't be calling them Rovers anymore.

Why would Ford go out and spend more money when its North American operations are operating in the red? It looks to us like Ford is planning to sit on the Rover for a while. Clearly the automaker doesn't want the brand prestige of the Land Rover threatened by Chinese-built cars bearing the Rover name, and was left the choice of either buying the name now or allowing SAIC to scoop it up. Whether Ford will do anything with the Rover name in the future remains to be seen, but for now it will likely be put in a drawer and forgot about. However, with SAIC having invested millions of dollars in its quest to revive the Rover brand, Ford now has the Chinese automaker over a barrel. Though it claims it won't, Ford could end up selling the name to SAIC and turning a tidy profit.

[Source: Reuters]

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