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Rover closer to deal with China
Rover's Longbridge plant may lose 2,000 jobs if the deal goes ahead
MG Rover has had a number of owners in recent years
Hopes are growing a deal between car maker MG Rover and China's Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC) will soon come to fruition.

Legal contracts are being drawn up over a joint venture between the two following the end of negotiations.

"We remain very confident of concluding an agreement," a Rover spokesman said.

The UK government has pushed to encourage the partnership, which could spell a cash injection for Rover from state-owned SAIC of up to £1bn ($1.9bn)

Chancellor Gordon Brown has already vowed to do everything possible to secure a tie-up between MG Rover and SAIC in a bid to save the troubled car maker, which employs 6,000 people at its Longbridge plant in Birmingham.

Mr Brown held talks with China's premier and finance minister to push the case for the joint venture, it was reported last month.

Last chance

Last year, the two companies announced they were seeking "a far-reaching strategic co-operation".

The possible tie-up has been described as the "the last chance saloon" for the future of Rover by Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport & General Workers Union.

Rover has been passed around between owners in the last few years.

It moved from state ownership to British Aerospace, then to German car giant BMW, before being sold to a consortium of businessmen, led by John Towers, in 2000.

While the Longbridge factory is expected to be saved if the Chinese deal goes through, any joint venture could see 2,000 jobs shed at the plant.

Under the proposed venture, the Chinese company would inject cash into Rover to help it develop new models and in return SAIC would secure ownership rights to Rover's more advanced technology.

SAIC also reportedly plans to move Rover 25 production to China and export it to the UK.
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