This week’s business round up

Strong pound could hit BMW investment plan

• BMW could be forced to scrap its plans to build a new medium-sized car at
Rover’s Longbridge plant, near Birmingham, because of the soaring pound. Group
production director Peter Forster said even if the European Commission approved
the Government’s £152m aid package the planned £1.5bn investment at Longbridge
could be cancelled if sterling remained at its current level – more than 40 per
cent higher than when BMW bought Rover six years ago. "We believe the
strong pound step by step erodes the manufacturing base and makes it
increasingly difficult to manufacture in the UK," he said. His comments
are one of the strongest pleas from a foreign industrialist for ministers to
talk down the pound. Guardian Unlimited

All energy company eyes turn to sale deal

• Energy-to-telecoms group United Utilities triggered another round of
upheaval in the electricity supply industry by appointing Goldman Sachs to
handle the sale of its electricity and gas retail business Norweb Energi. The
company, which has about two million electricity and 400,000 gas customers is
expected to fetch between £350m and £400m. It is likely to attract the
attention of major energy companies seeking to build major supply operations in
Britain. This Is London

Rolls-Royce vows to keep up pre-tax profits

• Rolls-Royce has promised it will continue to deliver double-digit earnings
growth despite "challenging" conditions. The aerospace, marine and
industrial power group reported an 11 per cent jump in pre-tax profits for 1999
on Thursday, towards the top end of market expectations. The group said pre-tax
profits rose to £360m, driven largely by a strong performance from its civil
aerospace business, which accounts for almost 56 per cent of total sales of
£4.74bn. Industrial power activities continued to be loss-making. Analysts were
looking for profits in the range of £335m to £368m.

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