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Changes at BMW as Rover is dumped

THERE has been another shake-up in the management at BMW following the announcement that the Munich company is going to dump its Rover subsidiary. The British car company will now be taken over by a venture capital group called Alchemy Partners, which is made up of British car executives Jon Moulton (a former chairman of Brands Hatch Leisure plc), Eric Walters and Chris Woodwark (the former chief executive of Cosworth,Vickers and then Rolls Royce).

The deal means that BMW will keep the Land Rover and Mini brands while paying Alchemy to take control of Rover and MG. Given the appalling image of Rover, Alchemy says that it will try to revive the company using the MG Car Company brand. The intention is to continue with the current Rover product range but with MG badging. BMW will hand over the vast Longbridge factory in Birmingham but will retain Cowley where it will produce the new Mini. BMW is expected to sell the Land Rover division to Ford to help recoup some of the losses made at Rover.

More significantly for Formula 1, the BMW management has been shaken up with the resignation of three important executives, including Wolfgang Ziebart, the man in charge of the BMW F1 project in his role as head of BMW research and development. Also out are Heinrich Heitmann (head of BMW's sales and marketing) and Carl-Peter Forster (production).

The Munich company will be run for the moment by chairman Joachim Milberg and chief financial officer Helmut Pankewith but new men are expected to be appointed shortly and one priority is expected to be a big increase in the budget allocated to the F1 program which was badly underestimated in the budget for 2000.

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