Chinese carmaker Nanjing Automobile could be named as the successful bidder for MG Rover in the next few days.
The little-known company has emerged as the frontrunner in the fight to take over the remaining assets of the Longbridge company, which crashed in April with debts of £1.4 billion and the loss of more than 5,000 jobs.
Its hopes rest on the fact that administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers has already clocked up a bill in the region of £10 million and is now anxious to finalise a sale so as to leave as much cash as possible to be distributed to creditors.
Despite its relatively small size, Nanjing has several advantages over its Chinese rival Shanghai Automotive Industry Coporation (SAIC) and the consortium of Midlands businessmen headed by company doctor David James.
It is said to have put forward the most comprehensive plan for maintaining car production in the West Midlands. And it is also thought to be the only serious contender whose bid, believed to be in the region of £50 million, is fully funded.
Mr James's Kimber Project consortium was left with an £80 million hole in its finances after efforts to strike a deal with SAIC under which Kimber would acquire assets and then sell them on to SAIC came to nothing.
Mr James and his associates are due to hold talks today with the Department of Trade and Industry with a view to securing a loan guarantee to enable Kimber - named after Cecil Kimber a legendary director of MG - to go ahead.
Likewise, SAIC's senior directors are expected to arrive in Britain today to pursue a possible deal involving former Ford of Europe executive Martin Leach and his associates.
However, two separate sources who cannot be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, have told the Post that the SAIC and Kimber bids are effectively dead in the water.
"PwC are interested in getting a sale of the assets of MG Rover drawn up as quickly as possible," one said.
"October has been named as a possible date but this is not right - the sale is likely to be finalised as early as the end of this week. Its fees are already in the region of £10 million and the longer it goes on the less there will be for the creditors.
" The Nanjing bid is extremely strong and they have the money."
The second source said: "The administrators are looking for a buyer who will take over the whole of the assets, who has a viable business plan and the money.
"It seems that Nanjing is the only one that meets the requirements."
A further plus for Nanjing is that it is being advised on the technical and corporate aspects of its bid by Ove Arup, the British-based international engineering consultancy that has a good track record in the automotive industry. The company has also received help from Nick Stephenson, a director of MG Rover's owner, Phoenix Venture Holdings.
Neither Mr Stephenson nor his fellow Phoenix directors, who have been accused of enriching themselves since taking over Rover from BMW in 2000, are commenting on any of the bids, saying they are a matter for the administrators.
They have been giving strictly unpaid advice to all the bidders and will not be involved in any future management at Longbridge.
But privately they are thought to favour the Nanjing option.