Birmingham IT entrepreneur to launch bid for Rover

...If he can assemble a consortium

A prospective buyer for stricken car firm Rover has stepped forward from the IT industry.

The carmaker's knight in shining armour is Birmingham millionaire John Hemming. Hemming owns several businesses in the Midlands, including Web portal marketnet, which is expected to float on AIM. The entrepreneur, who is also a Liberal Democrat member of Birmingham city council, said today he hoped to create a consortium to launch an alternative bid for the business, put up for sale by owner BMW. If successful, he will be pitched against venture capitalists Alchemy Partners, BMW's preferred buyer for Rover. "We are going through what figures we can and I am very interested in creating an alternative bid. But we recognise that Alchemy has such a lead that it will be extremely difficult to get anything together," Hemming told the Birmingham Post. "I don't want to raise expectations. It may be that BMW have fouled it up so much that it is not realistic." Hemming said he would be contacting BMW in the next few days. "Anyone interested on that basis should contact me at the Council House in Birmingham. Moves are afoot - it is about trying to get an alternative. We feel we need to look at the options of getting a better deal for the West Midlands." Fellow Midlands employer Peter Rigby, Specialis Computer Centres chairman and CEO, urged other companies in the area to consider Rover workers when looking for staff. He said SCC was currently looking for more than 100 middle to senior management in buying, engineering and vendor relations. "I am prepared to take the lead to make every effort to attract high-technology industries to the region," he told the Birmingham Post. Meanwhile, anti-BMW feeling was shown in Sutton Coldfield Tory MP Sir Norman Fowler's decision to get rid of his BMW car. "It will be going. Rover has been badly let down by BMW," said Fowler. "This is a personal decision. I don't want to drive a BMW in these circumstances." Alchemy, which last week agreed to take over the steering of loss-making Rover, has already started cutting production at two of the company's main factories.® Related stories Tories shortlist techie for London Mayor SCC buys Lantec division from Elcom SCH buys Info'Products Europe

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