Yesterday, Tony Blair, during his panic-stricken visit to Rover, refused to answer questions about the quality of the management that burned its way through £500 million and took the company to the verge of liquidation. When John Towers and three colleagues took on Rover five years ago, they were regarded by the company’s employees as “white knights”. Hmmm… An interesting piece in this morning’s Financial Times suggests that these gents are looking, well, tarnished.
Taking on Rover presented them with some risks, but nothing like as big as they were prone to make out. Each put up about £65,000 to convince BMW and the government of their good intentions. But the incentives were substantial: a token to buy the company and a dowry of more than £500m, mostly in the form of a loan BMW never really expected to be repaid, to run it.
Also, since buying Rover, the four have granted themselves £10m through a loan note and set up a £16.5m pension scheme, in addition to their pay. They have also made millions of pounds from a side venture in leased Rover cars.