Union leaders held 'constructive' talks with the new owners of MG Rover yesterday but revealed they still had concerns over how they would finance any carmaking revival at Longbridge.

Representatives from the Transport & General Workers Union travelled to the mothballed factory to meet managers from Nanjing Automobile.

Detailed plans about the future of carmaking at the site were discussed during the two-hour meeting but no exact information about how many jobs would be created have so far emerged.

Nanjing had previously said between 1,000 and 2,000 jobs would be created, but has so far refused to elaborate on exactly how many and when.

Dave Osbourne, national secretary for the automotive industry at the T&G, said: ?We are still at an early stage, and there remains union concern about how Nanjing will finance its operations.

?But we have agreed to meet again in the near future and on a regular basis.?

The talks, which also involved representatives from the other Longbridge unions, were described as far more positive than the ones which took place shortly after Nanjing bought the assets of MG Rover for #53 million at the end of July. But production at Longbridge or elsewhere in the Midlands is unlikely to begin until the beginning of next year at the earliest, it emerged.

The T&G declined to reveal any details, insisting it all depended on the financing arrangements Nanjing made.

Doubts have been voiced about the ability of the company to fund a relaunch of production at Longbridge and a new range of cars.

It has been estimated that recommencing the production lines in Birmingham could cost up to #500 million while the motor industry cost of launching a new model is usually about another #500 million.

Nanjing is hardly a huge player, with sales of about #630 million, while it could be about to become embroiled in a legal battle with Shanghai Automotive over the intellectual property rights to the Rover 25, 75 and K-series engine.

Critics have instead branded the Nanjing strategy as a lift and shift operation ? taking MG Rover to China and setting up production lines there.

An insider said: ?There still remains fears about lift and shift. But I think at the moment it is a case of following the money. Once that becomes clear, everything will fall into place and so will Nanjing?s plans for MG Rover.?