Two directors quit beleaguered MG Rover

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The Independent Online

Two non-executive directors of MG Rover who have been linked to a boardroom rift and a break-up plan for the company last night resigned with immediate effect.

Two non-executive directors of MG Rover who have been linked to a boardroom rift and a break-up plan for the company last night resigned with immediate effect.

Brian Parker, a Midlands financier, and Terry Whitmore, managing director of Mayflower's car-components group, stepped down. They blamed press speculation about their position at the company, which was bought from BMW in May by a consortium led by John Towers. Mayflower is a Rover supplier.

The resignations came ahead of a board meeting today, where, it was expected, the two non-executives would come under pressure to quit.

A third non-executive, or "adviser" as they are called at MG Rover, David Bowes, who is managing director of sports car group Lola, remains on the board. Mr Bowes was also said to be a member of the so-called "Consortium II" which was said to have a plan to break-up the group and take the prestigious MG marque from it.

In a statement, Mr Whitmore said: "The intense media pressure put upon me in recent weeks has forced me into it [resignation]. I have had to spend a great deal of time rebutting the stories that have appeared and this has affected me personally and professionally."

Mr Parker said: "I have no choice given the intense rumours and speculation." Both men expressed support for MG Rover's executive board and the company's business plans.

A source at MG said that there were no plans to replace Mr Parker and Mr Whitmore. "They were important in the takeover of the company but they had outlived their usefulness," he said. "With Mayflower as a Rover supplier, it is easy to see how Whitmore could be seen as having a conflict of interest."

According to one rumour, MG and Lola were planning to join forces and use the MG brand to produce sports cars. The purported intention was that the Rover brand would remain with the Towers consortium.

The two departing non-executives were also said it view MG Rover's plans to produce 200,000 cars a year as unrealistic and were concerned about stories that Mr Towers had his own plans to sell the company.

Yesterday, Messrs Parker, Whitmore and Towers all played down a boardroom fall-out. MG Rover said its business plan remained on course.

Mr Towers said: "We are very sorry Brian and Terry have been forced to make this decision. We are very appreciative of the help and advice that they provided when we acquired the business and wish them every success with their own ventures."

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