Press Report : Phoenix Four’s £20m pay packet
Jon Griffin, Birmingham Post, 7th July, 2009
John Towers and the other members of the Phoenix Four were paid an average of over £1 million a year each in salaries and pension benefits over their near five-year reign at the helm of Longbridge.
The detailed remuneration packages for Chairman Mr Towers, Vice-Chairman Peter Beale and Co-Directors Nick Stephenson and John Edwards were revealed today for the first time in a dossier on the collapse of MG Rover. The dossier, drawn up by public relations firm Media House International, discloses that the Phoenix Four earned average salaries and bonuses of £430,000 a year, with annual company pension contributions of £730,000 each on top.
PR advisers hired by the Phoenix Four to draw up the report say the salaries reflected the senior roles and responsibilities of the four Longbridge executives. A Phoenix Venture Holdings spokesman said today: “These packages were unexceptional in the industry and in companies of that size.”
The Directors firmly believe one vital fact – Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to save MG Rover. It was then Chancellor Gordon Brown who pulled the plug acting on advice from his special adviser Shriti Vadera.” The Phoenix Four’s PR Advisers, Media House International
The report also made a series of allegations over the Government’s role in the demise of the car firm and accuses current Prime Minister Gordon Brown of being responsible for pulling the plug on Longbridge. It said: “The Directors firmly believe one vital fact – Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to save MG Rover. It was then Chancellor Gordon Brown who pulled the plug acting on advice from his special adviser Shriti Vadera.
“Since then the Directors suffered a torrent of media abuse fuelled by the Number 10 spin machine and designed to distance the closure of MG Rover as far away as possible from the door of Brown and Vadera.” The report said: “A major part of the smear campaign against the Phoenix Directors concerns the allegedly vast amounts of money they “plundered” from the company.
“The mythical figure of £40 million in payments to the Phoenix Directors is entirely inaccurate and based on erroneous and mischievous press briefings. Average annual salary and bonus for each of the four Phoenix Directors from MG Rover and other Phoenix companies was £430,000 per annum – well below the industry and FTSE 100 average.
“Total payments in salary and bonuses to the Phoenix Directors over five years totalled £8.5 million. By comparison, Ford Senior Directors were paid between £1 million and £3 million each per year while presiding over a record £13 billion loss. Pension contributions, not previously in place and payable on retirement, were £730,000 per Director per year, equating to an annual salary of £100,000 to £150,000 per year, well below industry and FTSE averages.”
The mythical figure of £40 million in payments to the Phoenix Directors is entirely inaccurate and based on erroneous and mischievous press briefings. Average annual salary and bonus for each of the four Phoenix Directors from MG Rover and other Phoenix companies was £430,000 per annum – well below the industry and FTSE 100 average.” The Phoenix Four’s PR Advisers, Media House International
The dossier was released just 24 hours after Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced that a Serious Fraud Office investigation was to be launched into the collapse of MG Rover in April 2005 with the loss of more than 6,000 jobs.
Reports at the time of the closure of Longbridge claimed that a £120 million short-term Government loan to MG Rover was favoured by Tony Blair and then Industry Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt but was opposed and vetoed by Brown and Vadera.
The dossier alleges that the £120 million bridging loan offer was “suddenly and mysteriously” withdrawn whilst the Department of Trade and Industry had “briefed negatively” about MG Rover’s finances.
[Source: Birmingham Post]
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