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The Beyond Branding blog

July 25, 2005

Think first, open mouth second 

There are three parties unhappy with being sold to little-known Nanjing Automotive. David James is one—his idea would have seen an uglified MG TF being sold with other low-volume sports cars. To me, it’s an unappealing proposition. Secondly, SAIC is disappointed, as a failed bidder. It believes it owns the rights to two models, the Rover 25 and 75, and paid £67 million for them, and should be the rightful winner in the bidding—despite putting plenty of conditions on their attempt. (It also owns, according to the Design Register, the MG TF.) Thirdly, Tony Woodley, head of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, reckons more jobs could have been saved with SAIC.
   Ladies and gentlemen, you are all quite wrong.
   Mr James is an admirable gentleman but specialist production of MG would have seen the brand fade like so many others. Proposals from the James bid for a facelifted MG TF reminded me of the rubber-bumper MGB, an unappealing new front end for an old car. Without reading the bid, I am unsure how they would have afforded the R&D.
   SAIC are corporate raiders. How did they get approval from the National Development and Reform Committee back in Beijing for the new bid to pick up the rest of MG Rover’s corpse? By telling them that it would mean extra Chinese jobs. It would be one of the few ways to sweeten up the very calculating and cold NDRC. This was just a final attempt to pick the carcass clean, using a Briton (Martin Leach) as a front man so it would look more palatable. SAIC lost face ages ago, and it has no interest in supporting the British worker.
   That brings me directly on to how dumb the Union’s comments sound, by supporting a company that says it would save British jobs, when it was SAIC’s own actions that got MG Rover into this mess in the first place.
   Nanjing might not be the most sophisticated mob on the planet, but at least it put forth a reasonably transparent bid, it’s from a fast-growing area of China, and it has a point to prove—making it the least offensive of the bidders. PricewaterhouseCoopers made the right choice.
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