MG Rover faced an uncertain future from the moment it was bought from BMW five years ago, a senior manufacturing expert said.

Nick Matthews, from the Warwick Manufacturing Group, said the business model proposed by Phoenix Venture Holdings was "never really sustainable".

The four Phoenix directors, led by John Towers, were seen as heroes when they bought the manufacturer from BMW for #10.


Don't miss 'MG Rover: Past, Present and Future' - a special 20 page supplement published with Saturday's Birmingham Post.


Mr Towers pledged at the time to make Rover, soon to be rebranded MG Rover, profitable within two years.

He also planned to axe only 1,000 of the 9,000 jobs which then existed at Longbridge.

The Phoenix consortium had beaten a bid from venture capital group Alchemy Partners, which planned to end Rover's days as a mass market car maker and focus instead on smaller volumes of MG-badged vehicles, sacking half the workforce.

The Alchemy proposals were fiercely opposed in Birmingham.

But Mr Matthews said the Phoenix directors "have spent more time on financial engineering than engineering engineering".

He added: "We need to apologise to BMW for the way we vilified them.

"And we shouldn't make major decisions when we are in the midst of an emotional crisis, which is what we did five years ago."