John Hemming, the IT millionaire who is assembling a bid to rival Alchemy’s takeover of Rover, has attacked BMW for its lack of social responsibility and called for a boycott of the company, after it refused to provide information to his consortium.
Hemming’s Rover Future grouping has made a formal expression of interest in the entire group (except Land Rover), including both the Cowley and Longbridge plants. But Hemming, who is leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Birmingham City Council, said the move was being hampered by BMW’s refusal to allow it to approach Rover directly, and by lack of assistance from the government.
`BMW has said we can make a bid, but they won’t provide any information,’ said Hemming. `All we have is Rover’s accounts from Companies House.’
Hemming said a better bid than Alchemy Partners’ plan to transform Rover into a low-volume car maker could be assembled. About 6,000 jobs at Rover’s Longbridge factory are likely to go if Alchemy succeeds in buying it. `Alchemy’s is a shut-down bid,’ said Hemming.
He added that he believed volume car production at Longbridge and Cowley had a future. `There is a very good workforce which is not always given the credit due to it,’ he said.
Rover Future announced on Monday members of an advisory board to work on the bid. As well as Hemming, it includes: Mike Whitby, a company turnaround specialist and deputy leader of the Birmingham City Council Conservative group; Carl Chinn, organiser of this weekend’s demonstration in Birmingham against the sell-off ; businessman Brian Parker; and Andrew Sparrow, a partner in Lee Crowder solicitors. It has not been confirmed whether former Rover chief executive John Towers is part of the bid.
BMW chairman Joachim Milberg said this week that no large car makers have made an approach to buy Rover.