Doubt over Rover plant

This week’s business round up

• Question marks over the future of Rover’s Longbridge plant have reappeared
after Porsche filed a complaint to the European Commission that the UK
Government broke EU rules in its £152m aid package to Rover’s parent BMW. The subsidy
is to modernise the ageing plant, and is already subject to an investigation by
the European Commission. BMW warned a delay to the aid package could force a
rethink of the project. Separately, BMW became locked in a war of words after
accusing Volkswagen of leaking false rumours about plans to lease the
Longbridge factory to Volkswagen to make Golf cars. FT

Banking goes mobile

• The Halifax and NatWest have announced mobile phone banking services. The
Halifax has signed a deal with BT and BT Cellnet to provide customers with
access to bank services through their mobiles. NatWest, whose takeover by the
Royal Bank of Scotland has been confirmed (see above), will launch mobile phone
banking in association with the Orange network. FT

Firm builds £221m deal

• UK construction group Amec has become an international company with the
takeover of Canadian engineering and building company Agra for £221m. This will
create a firm with a turnover of nearly £4bn.

Anger at ‘interference’

• BT has hit back at criticisms by the Chancellor Gordon Brown over the
establishment of high-speed, low-cost Internet infrastructure for the UK. BT
said the chancellor should not intervene in its internal affairs. Brown
suggested BT’s monopoly on local telephone exchanges should be ended before the
planned date of 1 July 2001. He is keen that deregulation will spark the
introduction of an Internet infrastructure to match the US. BT’s statement said
its low-cost package was "bogged down" in regulatory procedures. The
Times

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