What's the last thing Ford needs right now? If you said another brand, you're right. Yet Ford may have no choice but to buy one anyway.
Here's the deal: Back in 2000, when BMW broke up the Rover Group, Ford bought Land Rover, which makes only SUVs. The Rover brand, used only on cars, became part of a new company, MG Rover.
Part of the deal, aimed at preventing confusion in the marketplace, prevented MG Rover from building Rover-branded SUVs.
Everything was fine until last year, when MG Rover went bust and two Chinese automakers divvied up the remains.
When MG Rover became roadkill, the rights to the Rover name reverted back to BMW - but with a twist.
If BMW ever sold the Rover brand, Ford would have the first right of refusal.
Now comes word that BMW has agreed to sell the Rover name to Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.
Ford's dilemma: Do you let the Chinese buy the name, for about $20 million, and hope that somewhere down the road it doesn't end up on an SUV that competes with Land Rover? Or do you buy the Rover name and reunite it with Land Rover and then sell it along with Jaguar in a package deal to raise cash?
Stayed tuned. This soap opera has a few more episodes.