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Insolvency Law

Expert guidance on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency

09 MAY 2011

Phoenix four undertake not to act as Directors - are the periods sufficiently lengthy?

It has been announced (and reported) that the 'Phoenix Four' (Peter Beale, Nick Stephenson, John Edwards and John Towers) have undertaken not to act as company directors for between three and six years. MG Rover collapsed in 2005 with debts of £1.3bn and with the loss of 6,000 jobs. The directors have allegedly trousered £40 million each in remuneration as part of their role in the failed company.

You will remember that Mr Justice Newey's comprehensive report into the affair cost some £15 million. The disqualification periods are between three and five years, i.e.

  • Peter Beale - six years
  • John Towers - five years
  • Nick Stephenson - five years
  • John Edwards -  three years

This might not seem particularly severe on the Re Sevenoaks Stationers scale (maximum of 15 years) - plenty of time to spend £40 million the creditors and employees might think! Some money has however been saved in reaching this compromise - there might not have been much left after the £15 million report! Mr Edward Davey MP, Minister with responsibility for corporate governance and company law said:

“These disqualification undertakings represent a successful conclusion to a lengthy and complex investigation into the collapse of MG Rover. Peter Beale, John Towers, Nick Stephenson and John Edwards have each been banned from being involved in the management of any company for several years. The outcome of this case serves as an important reminder that unacceptable conduct by company directors can result in lengthy periods of disqualification.”


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