Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Ex-Rover businessmen disqualified

The four men in charge of MG Rover when it collapsed in 2005 have been disqualified as directors for between three and six years

The four businessmen in charge of car giant MG Rover when it collapsed, with the loss of thousands of jobs, have been disqualified as directors for between three and six years, the Government has announced.

The move against Peter Beale, John Towers, Nick Stephenson and John Edwards follows a long-running investigation into their involvement in the former car giant, which went out of business in 2005.

The so-called Phoenix Four came under attack in an 800-page official report two years ago, which claimed that MPs investigating why the firm folded were given "inaccurate and misleading information" by one of the four directors.

The four bought the Longbridge-based firm from BMW for a nominal £10 in 2000 and paid themselves millions of pounds before the firm went bust with the loss of more than 6,000 jobs.

A statement by the Business Department said the four had each undertaken not to act in the management of limited companies for varying periods of between three and six years.

"The disqualification undertakings conclude the enforcement action by The Insolvency Service on behalf of the Government.

"Since the publication of the independent report into the financial affairs of MG Rover and its associated companies, the Insolvency Service has been taking forward intended proceedings to disqualify the directors. In line with the findings of the independent report, it was the position of the Insolvency Service that taken as a whole, the overall conduct of the Phoenix Four made them unfit to be company directors.

"The service particularly highlighted the report's findings in respect of the way the directors manipulated the assets and income streams through the use of companies in which they, rather than the creditors of MG Rover, had an interest, allowing them to benefit through large salaries, dividends and profits," said a statement.

Edward Davey, minister with responsibility for corporate governance and company law, said: "These disqualification undertakings represent a successful conclusion to a lengthy and complex investigation into the collapse of MG Rover.

"Peter Beale, John Towers, Nick Stephenson and John Edwards have each been banned from being involved in the management of any company for several years. The outcome of this case serves as an important reminder that unacceptable conduct by company directors can result in lengthy periods of disqualification."

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