Venture capital group Alchemy Partners has pulled out of negotiations to buy Rover in a surprise move which leaves the field of possible purchasers wide open again.
In a terse statement issued today, Alchemy said it had withdrawn from talks with Rover parent group BMW because of an inability to agree on 'certain contractual matters'.
Alchemy had been considered the most likely purchaser of Rover until this morning. The withdrawal makes it more likely that Rover will be bought by Phoenix consortium led by former Rover executive John Towers. But BMW is believed to need more confirmation that Phoenix has sufficient financial backing to support its bid.
Behind the scenes, BMW is also talking to Indian industrial conglomerate Tata about buying Rover, according to a motoring magazine out this week. Tata would like to buy Longbridge to build its small hatchback, the Indica, and is also interested in Rover's range of proven petrol and diesel engines.
BMW is expected to make a statment later today.