Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 13:36 UK

Who are the Phoenix Four?

Phoenix Four - clockwise from top left: Nick Stephenson, John Towers, John Edwards, Peter Beale
The Phoenix Four have been heavily criticised over their pay and benefits

A report into the collapse of carmaker MG Rover has revealed that five executives took £42m in pay and pensions from the troubled firm .

The report focuses its criticism on the Phoenix Four and chief executive Kevin Howe who oversaw its collapse after buying the Birmingham-based carmaker from BMW for £10 in 2000.

The men had initially been hailed as saviours of the plant and the jobs of 6,500 workers - but despite the later criticism, the report does not accuse them of breaking the law.

JOHN TOWERS, MG ROVER CHAIRMAN

Joined Rover in 1988 from the engine company Perkins. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from Bradford University.

Began his career at Perkins, part of a Coventry-based tractor manufacturer; but left the firm in 1988 to join Rover Group.

Once he joined Rover he quickly moved through the ranks, starting as engineering director before becoming product development director, then head of product supply, before becoming chief executive in 1991.

In 1994 he tried to arrange a buyout, with Honda, from the group's then-owner British Aerospace. The deal foundered, the company was sold to BMW and Mr Towers quit in 1996.

He later moved on to run his own small engineering company, Concentric, and returned to Rover in 2000 with the Phoenix takeover.

Between 2000 and 2005, Mr Towers took home £8.958m in pay, pensions and bonuses.

NICK STEPHENSON

Worked alongside John Towers at Perkins between 1970-78 after studying engineering at London University.

Mr Stephenson subsequently joined British Leyland, which then became Rover. He later served on the Rover board between 1996 and 1999.

After leaving Rover, Mr Stephenson began working for Lola, a company which produced racing cars, on a part-time basis. In July 2000 he was appointed non-executive director of the group, a post he held until November 2001.

Between 2000 and 2005, Mr Stephenson took on directorships at a number of other companies, including Mira - which MG Rover contracted for consultancy services worth nearly £2.4m during 2001 and 2002.

During that time, Mr Stephenson made a total of £8.976m from MG Rover and Phoenix Holdings

JOHN EDWARDS

Earned a chemistry degree from Birmingham University, but went on to work at the family firm - his father's Rover franchise, Edwards Cars, which was based in Stratford-upon-Avon - which he owned and managed from 1987.

In 2000, he became both a director of MG Rover Group and of Phoenix Venture Holdings.

Mr Edwards made £9.024m made between 2000 and the appointment of administrators at MG Rover in April 2005.
He was also a director of a number of other companies between 2000 and 2005.

PETER BEALE

The Phoenix Holdings finance director joined Pricewaterhouse in 1981 as a tax specialist. He later spent six years with another accountancy firm, Harrison Priddey and Co, where he became partner.

In 1989, he quit Harrison Priddy to become finance director of Edwards Cars, the family firm of fellow Phoenix Four member John Edwards. He became company secretary of Edwards Cars five years later.

Mr Beale also owned two other companies - Stratford Auto Body Centre and Advance Management - with close links to Mr Edwards.

Five years ago Mr Beale did admit that the four Phoenix bosses had taken "extraordinary rewards" from Rover, but insisted they had been earned because they had taken an "extraordinary risk".

He received £8.981m during his time at MG Rover and Phoenix.



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