How Rover executives pocketed £42m
Criticism of how five executives extracted £42m in pay and pensions from MG Rover will be made tomorrow in a report by independent inspectors appointed by the Business Department.
The inspectors - Gervase MacGregor of the accountants BDO Stoy Hayward and Guy Newey QC - will not accuse the so-called Phoenix Four and the chief executive they appointed of breaking the law (and the Serious Fraud Office recently concluded that it would not launch a case against them).
But their report is a humiliating 800-page catalogue of how they enriched themselves while the last UK-owned mass market motor manufacturer hurtled towards insolvency.
Each of the Phoenix Four - John Towers, Nick Stephenson, Peter Beale and John Edwards - received around £9m, according to the report. Their chief executive, Kevin Howe, pocketed £5.7m.
I understand that the Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, will commence proceedings to disqualify the four as directors.
The report contains a mountain of detail of how the quartet profited from a business in dire trouble.
It catalogues how John Towers, Nick Stephenson, Peter Beale and John Edwards made personal fortunes out of MG Rover - in stark contrast to the more than 6,000 MG Rover employees who lost their jobs when the firm collapsed into administration in April 2005 with debts greater than £1bn.
This was a pathetic end for the last British-owned volume car manufacturer.
I am told that what is striking about the report is that there is no serious attempt to place Rover's demise into the context of the woes of the wider industry.
And some may be surprised that a report - which took more than four years to produce and has cost £16m of taxpayers money - contains no serious criticism of government, even though what was then called the Department of Trade and Industry, and is now called the Business Department, was intimately involved in attempts to save MG Rover.
In particular, the circumstances have always been murky surrounding a decision by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation of China not to pursue a rescue takeover of MG Rover in the spring of 2005. At the time, SAIC was insisting that the British government provide a temporary £100m loan to MG Rover to guarantee its solvency.
The Phoenix Four took control of the company in May 2000. They bought MG Rover for a nominal £10. The business came with an interest-free loan of £427m from BMW, the previous owner.