Workers are left to question motives of the Phoenix Four

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The Independent Online

So who exactly are the Phoenix Four - the men who bought MG Rover from BMW? John Towers, the current chairman and former chief executive of the Birmingham-based car group, has always been the driving force behind the quartet.

So who exactly are the Phoenix Four - the men who bought MG Rover from BMW? John Towers, the current chairman and former chief executive of the Birmingham-based car group, has always been the driving force behind the quartet.

Born in a mining town in County Durham, the only son of a vehicle maintenance engineer, Towers was fascinated by cars as soon as he could walk. By the age of 13, he was already decoking engines, and by 18, he had begun his career at Perkins, the engine business, from where he began his rapid ascent to the top of the UK motor industry.

After joining Rover in 1986, it was only a few years before Mr Towers was appointed chief executive, during which time he was credited with building the group's crucial car-making alliance with Honda.

When BMW bought Rover back in 1994, Mr Towers elected to take a smaller job, running a Birmingham car parts manufacturer, Concentric, whose fortunes were dependent on those of Rover.

So when BMW finally decided to cut its losses with Rover four years ago, Mr Towers found it impossible not to step up to rescue the company which he had been involved with for the past 14 years.

His chosen partners all had their own reasons for wanting to see Rover stay afloat - and out of the hands of Alchemy, the venture capitalists, who were threatening to cut the heart out of the business to ensure it survived.

John Edwards, who ran one of the main Rover dealerships in the Midlands, was the first to want to get involved with the bid. With him came John Beale, the finance director of his business.

The fourth member of the crew was Nick Stephenson, who was working for a small-scale sports car manufacturer, Lola Cars. Mr Stephenson had been an integral part of Towers' team back in his days as Rover's chief executive, heading up the group's product and design division.

While the four all appeared to have the best intentions for Rover, the last four years have left workers and the company's former owners wondering whether the quartet were only ever in the game for a quick buck.

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