In the face of the public backlash against BMW for their handling of the sell-off of Rover, BMW chairman Professor Joachim Millberg, today vigorously defended BMW’s integrity.
Speaking at BMW’s annual accounts press conference in Munich Millberg stressed that there was no alternative to this decision: ‘You can be sure that we did not take this decision lightly, considering that it involves the destiny of many of our associates as well as substantial financial assets,’ he explained.
He conceded that the practical implementation of the strategy BMW initiated when it bought Rover in 1994 has not proved successful. ‘We have not been able to successfully penetrate and occupy the lower midrange segment with the Rover brand. This is a fact we must accept – and we do so. ‘
He then turned his attention to the media whom he feels have treated BMW unfairly. ‘We have been accused of consciously deceiving the public and the workforce in the period leading up to this decision. I must say that accusation really hurt me personally.
‘Let me therefore emphasise at this point that at all times I answered all questions on the future of Rover to the best of my knowledge, clearly and honestly, presenting the status applicable at each point in time. I do however realise that some of my statements might now, in hindsight, be interpreted differently.
‘Just imagine what would have happened if we had announced publicly our considerations – and let me emphasise the word considerations, not sales plans – in January, then taking a different decision against the sale of Rover in March. that would have created exactly the opposite of the clarity we all desire.’