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Your Money: Rover taken Four a ride; UNION BLASTS CAR BOSSES.

Byline: EDITED by CLINTON MANNING

UNION leaders last night accused MG Rover's bosses of "betraying" the crippled car giant's workers.

And they dismissed the offer of a pounds 49million lifeline for the Birmingham business as a possible attempt to buy off a future official inquiry.

The row erupted as relatives of the 6,000-strong Longbridge workforce prepared to march on Downing Street today.

Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said it has a letter from the directors of MG Rover's owner, Phoenix Venture Holdings, offering to hand over pounds 49million of its assets to help keep the business running.

But most of those assets were part of Rover before the "Phoenix Four" - PVH's directors - took control five years ago.

"They are morally bankrupt," said Tony Murphy, national officer of the Amicus union. "These are assets which used to belong to Rover and were creamed off. And why are they doing this? I'm sure it's not out of love for the 20,000 people whose livelihoods are under threat.

"There has been growing talk of a probe into the way they have behaved. They may be trying to buy off that danger."

The Phoenix Four paid just pounds 10 for MG Rover in May 2000, were given a pounds 427million dowry by BMW to take the business off its hands and have since taken an estimated pounds 40million out of the business in pay and pension payments.

They have also moved assets such as Studley Castle, a Warwickshire stately home and conference centre, into separate companies.

"There is a very hostile attitude here towards the Four," said Murphy. "They had once been welcomed as heroes but now it appears they've been running the business for their own benefit."

PricewaterhouseCoopers is battling to resurrect a rescue deal with the Chinese after the government stumped up a pounds 6.5million loan to cover costs for a week.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 13, 2005
Words:316
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