South Korean carmakers, whose sales are booming in western markets, are likely contenders to take over redundant MG Rover dealership sites, industry experts claim.
The South Koreans could be set to copy Japanese manufacturers who swooped on sites left empty when BLMC, the predecessor of MG Rover, axed half its dealers in a so-called 'night of the long knives' 40 years ago.
The claim is made by the authors of a new report for KPMG on the automotive distribution sector.
They say that MG Rover's 264 franchised outlets represented less than five per cent of the 5,900 national dealership network.
About 150 were operated by major dealership groups and are likely to be converted to other franchises.
Many of the others are likely to be of interest to South Korean manufacturers such as Hyundi, Kia and Daewoo who are expanding in the UK.
Kia aims to treble its sales to 100,000 a year within the next five years.
"The interesting dynamic within the industry will be to observe whether there is a rapid cherry picking of disenfranchised dealers as happened forty years ago in the night of the long knives when BLMC axed half its dealers - and the Japanese brands visited most of those dealers within a few weeks," the report says.
Author Professor Peter Cooke of Nottingham Business School, who compiled the report with Adrian McMullan, a Nottingham Business School lecturer.
MG Rover went into administration when its lifesaving joint venture with Chinese company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation floundered.
Capacity and output among Chinese manufacturers is growing far faster than the country's retail market and they are now looking to offload cars on to world markets.