The MG Rover Trust Fund is to be wound up after over seven years – without a penny going to 6,500 former workers forced out of Longbridge.
Trustees are finally calling time on the long-running cash saga after banking giant HBOS withdrew £12.5 million earmarked for ex-workers and the High Court rejected a legal bid for a reprieve earlier this year.
The end of the road comes over seven years after former Phoenix Venture Holdings chairman John Towers pledged up to £30 million for redundant workers – and follows a fruitless last-ditch plea to the Phoenix Four for personal contributions from their reported £42 million fortunes.
Now plans have been drawn up to donate just over £20,000 originally allocated to set up the Trust Fund to a local children’s charity, dependent on workers’ approval.
Birmingham historian Carl Chinn, one of the four trustees, said: “After all this time, it is very disappointing and upsetting. The former directors have not seen fit to put substantial funds into the Trust to enable us to make proper payouts to the workers.
“It is a very sad end to the saga. These people are very wealthy men based on the money we know they received from their time at Longbridge.
“There is just over £20,000 available and that will go to charity if ex-workers agree. There were genuine hopes (of payouts) but the Trust is now set to be wound up.”
Fellow trustee and former Unite union official Eric McDonald said: “The only thing we can say about the Phoenix Four is that they are the only people who have done very nicely, thank you, out of the collapse of MG Rover.
“They have all done exceptionally well out of a company they only paid £10 for. They have become millionaires and have made no attempt to defend their positions. They got £42 million and all the MG Rover workers got was their redundancy pay from the state.”
Oliver Thomas of the Justice for Rover Workers campaign, said: “We have all feared deep down that the Trust Fund payments would never happen, despite all of the hot air that has come out of the Phoenix camp.
“But when the moment comes when you know that it is over, it is still very frustrating, given the money that they have walked away with.
“Whilst their trust fund in Guernsey profited them millions, it is sad that the workers who were promised up to £30 million appear to have been strung along.
“I personally now reject all comments from the Phoenix Four about the Trust Fund and whatever intentions they had. I’ve met with them several times and we were promised funds that never came.
“It still beggars belief that although this matter was questioned in the House of Commons and also through an inquiry and then passed to the Serious Fraud Office, no action was taken and no help given to ex-workers in terms of the Trust Fund from anybody within a senior Government position.”
MG Rover collapsed in April 2005 with debts of more than £1 billion, throwing 6,500 people out of work after nearly five years under the Phoenix regime.
Former chairman John Towers had initially estimated the value of Phoenix Venture Holdings assets for potential transfer to the Trust Fund as between £10 million and £30 million.
Around £12.5 million was raised from the sale of Studley Castle conference centre and some dealerships but the cash was withdrawn by banking giant HBOS who later said it was duty bound to minimise its losses as a creditor of MG Rover.
Former workers are now being asked to approve plans – through the Justice for Rover Workers website or Unite union – to channel the £20,000 available to a local charity before the donation can be made.
Sources close to the Phoenix Four believe millions of pounds in legal costs, money paid out to administrators and their lack of salaries since 2005 have eaten substantially into their fortunes from the MG Rover era.