Tuesday, May 03, 2005

 

Double Whammy

It's been a bad month for British industry.

Britain's last remaining volume car manufacturer, MG Rover, has gone into administration (the UK equivalent of Chapter 11). PWC are now in there selling off what remains.

In its heyday in the 1960s and early 70s Rover was responsible for producing some of the most beautiful cars ever made, like the Rover P6:



Or even better, the classic P5:



In 1975 the British Government created a monster nationalised car company, British Leyland, which contained classic marques like Jaguar and Rover. Of course, the brain-dead socialist government turned out to be as good at making cars as it was at everything else - that is to say, absolutely useless - and British Leyland became synonymous with appalling quality and industrial unrest. At the Longbridge plant in 1978-1979 the communist agitator Derek Robinson was responsible for an unbelievable 523 strikes.

Under Margaret Thatcher British Leyland disappeared and Rover was privatised again, first by being sold to British Aerospace and later to BMW. In 2001 BMW sold Rover to its own directors for one pound.

And now Rover has finally called it a day after 100 years car manufacturing.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Another British manufacturing legend was GEC (not to be confused with the American GE). GEC manufactured electrical parts such as turbines and generators, as well as owning shipbuilding companies amd telecommunications interests and could trace its origins back to 1886. Under its shrewd, legendary, boss Lord Weinstock who headed the company from 1963-1996, GEC went from strength to strength. (More information here)

In 1999 the new management decided to refocus the company's activities on what was then the booming IT and telecommunications market, joining the illustrious ranks of the likes of Worldcom, Global Crossing and Enron Broadband Services. They renamed the company Marconi. (Incidentally all these firms, including Marconi, had Arthur Andersen as their auditor)

They went on an acquisition spree in the USA, buying various overpriced communications and networking companies. More information on this brilliant strategy here.

In 2001 with the bursting of the Internet bubble Marconi's stock plunged to an all-time low. They were on the brink of bankruptcy.

On April 28th Marconi announced that it has failed to win any of the $10BN "21st Century Network" contract from British Telecom (the UK's main telephone and internet provider). Talk about a vote of confidence from BT.

Marconi is now up for sale.
Comments:
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Have a nice day.
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