LONDON -- The struggle to find a buyer for MG Rover took an unexpected turn last week as three competing bids emerged.
By last weekend -- 15 weeks after the British carmaker went into administration -- the three rival bidders had gone public with their product plans and even leaked sketches of proposed new models. The three wanted to sway public opinion and impress MG Rover administrators Pricewaterhouse-Coopers.
Just weeks earlier it had seemed unlikely that a credible buyer would ever emerge. A fire-sale auction of MG Rover's few remaining assets looked unavoidable.
PwC says it wants to get the best possible settlement for the creditors of MG Rover, who are owed a total of £1.4 billion (about E2 billion).
A final deadline of October had been set for an auction of assets, but the eruption of a very public bidding battle between three potential buyers means a sale is likely.
Sources within PwC say an agreement could be reached as early as this week (July 25-29).
This is how the bids stood last Friday:
This alliance between ex-Ford of Europe head Martin Leach and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. was the front runner.
Leach's Magma and SAIC were cautious on divulging model plans or designs.
But the bid has a highly credible potential management team and is believed to be offering more than the £50 million PwC considers the minimum threshold. SAIC knows Rover well from its earlier dealings with the company.
Like the previous bid, this alliance is bidding for all MG Rover assets.
The bid's partners are China's Nanjing Auto and the London-based design consultancy Arup. The bidders are advised by former MG Rover Engineering Director Nick Stevenson.
Headed by UK corporate rescue expert David James, this bid has fluctuated from buying the whole MG Rover group to just relaunching the MG TF sports car. Project Kimber is named after Cecil Kimber, who built the first MG in 1926.