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Howe defies union block

Phoenix Consortium has called on former Rover executives to fill vital board positions, believing they have the experience and background knowledge to drive the carmaker into profit.

Kevin Howe, former managing director of the Longbridge plant, has been appointed Rover chief executive, despite speculation that unions were opposed to the move.

Tony Woodley, Transport and General Workers Union official, is thought to have told Phoenix head John Towers that workers would have preferred a different candidate because of a strained two-year relationship with Mr Howe when he managed Longbridge.

Rover and the unions have since released a joint statement claiming a “spirit of partnership” at the plant in a bid to end the speculation.

The appointment means acting chief executive Mr Towers will take a back seat as non-executive chairman.

Mr Howe will be joined by former Rover fleet sales manager John Parkinson, who becomes sales and marketing director. Mr Parkinson was managing director of BMW's UK national sales operation.

Phoenix has also appointed ex-finance head of Rover sales and marketing John Millett as group finance director; Longbridge manager Bob Beddow as human resources director; and Chris Bowen, former Longbridge plant manager, as operations director.

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