5 MARCH 1988, Page 5


FOR Lord Young to describe the British Aerospace approach to the Rover Group (the old British Leyland minus the sexy bits) as 'unsolicited' is rather like a man with a for Sale sign outside his house, describing the ring on his front door bell from a willing buyer as unsolicited. When Mr Graham Day was installed at Rover, it was clearly with the idea of leading the group to a public flotation and independ- ence, but the effect of the stock market crash is that it will no longer be possible for the Government always to rely on this method of selling assets. If the aim of wider share ownership is to be selectively aban- doned, there is absolutely no excuse for not getting the highest possible price for the taxpayer, as beneficial owner. Which is to say that any writing off of the £3 billion invested in Rover should be available to all putative purchasers, not just British, but also German or Japanese: Why should British companies be the only ones allowed to make mistakes?