The Times, 18 January 1968 : Motor Merger Is Britain’s Biggest

Motor Merger Is Britain’s Biggest

£800m sales a year for BMH-Leyland group


A £410m. merger between British Motor Holdings and Leyland Motors was announced yesterday. The biggest in the history of British industry, it will create British Leyland Motor Corporation, fifth biggest company in the United Kingdom and one of the top three motor manufacturing groups outside the United States.

Annual sales will exceed £800m. The 200,000 shareholders of B.M.H. and Leyland will be offered one share in the new group for each of their existing shares.

Sir George Harriman, chairman of B.M.H., will head the board of the combined group, but Leyland’s chairman, Sir Donald Stokes, emerges as chief executive and managing director and will wield day to day power.

At a press conference last night both men emphasised that it was an extremely amicable marriage between their companies. They are convinced that the merger will leave Britain’s motor industry far stronger and more competitive in the world’s export markets. Combined exports will top £250m. in the first year.

The Industrial Reorganisation Corporation had a key part in the negotiations preceding the merger, and is making £25m. available as loan capital for British Leyland. The Board of Trade will not object to the merger.

Intense activity in B.M.H. shares on the stock market preceded the announcement yesterday afternoon. Rumours of an impending merger had been gathering strength in the past week, but the final arrangements were completed only yesterday morning.

Famous Names

The famous names grouped under British Leyland’s heading will include Austin, Morris, Riley, Wolseley, M.G., and Jaguar from the B.M.H. stable. Leyland puts in Triumph, Rover, Alvis, and its impressive commercial vehicle range. As a result the new group will cover every market from Minis upwards. Some overlapping models may be eliminated even­tually but the individual names will remain.

The immediate task facing Sir Donald Stokes will be preparing the basic plan to get the two huge companies integrated into one efficient organisation.

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