Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:18 UK

Rover report: At a glance

MG Rover logos at former dealership
MG Rover collapsed with debts of 1bn

The executives who were running carmaker MG Rover when it collapsed received "unreasonably large" payments, an independent report into the carmaker's collapse has said.

The 830-page report took four years to produce and has cost about £16m.

Here are some of the highlights:

FINANCIAL REWARD

The report says the financial rewards obtained by the five executives running Rover when it collapsed were "unreasonably large".

REMUNERATION
Mr Beale £8.981m
Mr Edwards £9.024m
Mr Stephenson £8.976m
Mr Towers £8.958m
Mr Howe £5.708m
Source: MG Rover report

It said the executives chose to reward themselves "out of all proportion to the incomes which they had previously commanded".

The rewards "were also large when compared with remuneration paid in other companies", the report added.

The executives justified their remuneration packages, which included bonuses, salaries and pensions by comparing them to pay of young men in the City of London received big bonuses for contributing "very little", the report said.

According to the report, the directors also gave "inaccurate and misleading" reports to MPs by exaggerating the scale of the personal financial risks they had taken as individuals.

"In reality... the members of the Phoenix Consortium had invested relatively little in the [MG Rover] group and undertaken only limited risks," the report said.

GOVERNMENT CRITICISM

The government comes off relatively lightly in the report.

The report says that it cannot be blamed for the collapse of the negotiations between Rover and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

The government was prepared to offer a bridging loan to SAIC. But once it was told that SAIC did not want to proceed with the transaction, the report said, the government "could not sensibly have concluded that there was a real prospect of a loan being repaid in full".

"To make a loan in such circumstances could hardly have been a proper use of public funds and would (as we understand it) have been illegal under EU law."

However, the government is criticised for briefing the press on the negotiations before updating Rover.

"Although we consider that it was irresponsible to tell the press that the talks with SAIC had 'stalled' without consulting, or even informing, the group, we have no doubt that [Rover] would have gone into administration in April 2005 in any case," the report said.

PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP

Nick Stephenson, one of the Phoenix Four, paid almost £1.7m to a consultant, identified as Dr Li, with whom he had a "personal relationship", the report says.

Nick Stephenson
Only one other director knew of Mr Stephenson's relationship

The companies that Dr Li was associated with provided advice on potential collaborations with Chinese firms, in particular SAIC.

The report said that the fees were "much too high".

It added that Mr Stephenson paid the fees without consulting the other directors and only one other director knew of his relationship with Dr Li.

The report said that this was "thoroughly unsatisfactory".

ELIMINATING EVIDENCE?

The report criticises Mr Beale, the finance director of Phoenix Holdings, for buying computer software that deep cleans a computer's hard disk of any "sensitive material" that normal efforts to delete would not remove.

Peter Beale
Mr Beale deleted a folder named "MG Rover"

It said that Mr Beale bought and installed the Evidence Eliminator software on 1 June 2005, a day after the investigation was announced.

"Mr Beale caused material on his computer to be deleted prior to our review and to be deleted in such a way that the material was no longer recoverable using standard computer forensic tools," the report said.

One deleted sub-folder was named "MG Rover".

"It is impossible to determine to what extent (if any) material of significance to our investigation was deleted," it added.

Mr Beale told the inspectors he downloaded the software to get rid of personal files.

PHOENIX REACTION

The so-called Phoenix Four, plus chief executive Kevin Howe, described the report as a "witchhunt" and a "whitewash for the government".

"Our remuneration was not the reason for the collapse. The real reason is the government bungled the last chance to save MG Rover," they added.

AUDITORS

The report also looked at the role played by Deloitte, which audited Rover's accounts.

It said that Deloitte warranted attention because of the large fees it earned for non-audit work it undertook for the firm.

However, the report found no evidence to suggest that Deloitte's independence and objectivity were in fact compromised.

Nevertheless, an investigation by the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board into Deloitte's conduct will continue.



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