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MG Rover “turned into £100m private empire” - Guardian

A report in The Guardian of 2 March, which follows recent critical reports on MG Rover financial structures in The Telegraph, claims the four men credited with saving MG Rover have “dismantled the group and created a private empire”.

The result of complex financial restructuring, claims the paper, is that “if Rover were to fall victim to the ferociously competitive pressures of the volume car manufacturing, costing thousands of jobs in the Midlands, those who organised the purchase of the business from £10 from BMW four years ago would stand to walk away with more than £100m between them.”

While acknowledging that the company disputes the contention that the Rover group has been structured for the benefit of the four owners of the Phoenix consortium which rescued MG Rover, and absolutely rejects any notion of asset stripping, Guardian reporters Ian Griffiths' and John Gow's analysis of the new structure suggests that John Towers, Nick Stephenson, John Edwards and Peter Beale will be at least £70m richer between them if Britain's last independent volume car maker is forced to close. This is on top of the £31m in fees and other benefits the Phoenix directors have already received from the group.

Specific assets which The Guardian says now rest beyond the reach of MG Rover and Powertrain workers and MG Rover dealers who were granted shares in MG Rover include:

· The Powertrain engine business, worth at least £50m, which supplies Land Rover, Lotus and Caterham cars, as well as MG Rover.

· Studley Castle, formerly used as a Rover training centre, worth more than £2m.

· MGR Capital and two other leasing businesses, worth about £24m.

The Guardian also says the development of a new MG sports model is being undertaken away from the core Rover business, while the company's spare parts business has also been restructured. The paper says Phoenix Venture Holdings told it yesterday that the deals involving Powertrain and the Rover parts business "have both resulted in major benefits to MG Rover", and added that smaller acquisitions by Phoenix were "either no cost or low cost, with no material profit stream for use anywhere in the group".

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