In 1994, British Aerospace sold its 80% majority share in Rover Group for $1.35 billion to BMW, which was looking for a lower-end brand to complement its luxury performance cars. But despite budgeting $2.8 billion to invest in new models, it never fully confronted Rover's inefficient and antiquated practices, and the acquisition turned into a sinkhole. In 2000, BMW broke up the group. It sold Land Rover to Ford and Rover cars to an investor consortium and decided to keep MINI for itself.
Ford struggled with Land Rover before selling it to Tata Motors of India in 2008. The Rover Car consortium failed and production ceased in 2005. But MINI has been a boon for BMW with its MINI Cooper creating what has become known as the premium small segment. BMW itself went through a management upheaval after the Rover fiasco but emerged stronger than ever. Analyst Jonas notes that while it cost BMW $2.7 billion to exit Rover, its stock "subsequently appreciated handsomely."
Democrats and Republicans are debating that question today, but we may not know the answer for 10 or 15 years.
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