The non-executive directors' uprising at MG Rover will explode this week when three board members unveil a plan to break up the group and attempt to take the famous MG marque away from John Towers, the group's chairman.
Three non-executive directors have established what is being called "Consortium II" in an attempt to wrestle the prestigious MG sporting badge away from Towers, leaving the group's embattled boss with just the damaged Rover brand.
It is understood that one non-executive director, Brian Parker, has assured his colleagues that he can raise the £50m needed to make the consortium's bid a success.
The plan includes buying a large chunk of land at the Longbridge plant, plus the Powertrain transmissions and Body & Pressings businesses from BMW, Rover's former owner. The other non-executives involved are David Bowes, managing director of sports car group Lola, and Terry Whitmore, managing director of the Mayflower car-components group. The men are understood to have alerted Towers to their plans to acquire Powertrain and Body & Pressings, but their offer to take MG away will come as a complete shock to Towers this morning.
One member of "Consortium II" said: "We can get the money - that's no problem. We believe the MG marque would be better served as a separate company. I am sure John [Towers] will understand that the MG and Rover brands will work better apart. This would leave John to realise his ambitions of creating a successful Rover company. No jobs losses would be needed. We would physically be working alongside each other, but as individual companies."
The plan, very similar to that which Alchemy, the venture capitalist, had for MG, would result in Lola and Mayflower combining to create Britain's biggest dedicated sports-car manufacturer. The team believes more than 75,000 cars a year could be produced.
The Sunday Times revealed the boardroom split last week. While the group tried to deny the split, it was unable to produce a signed document declaring each of the non-executive's support for Towers, having said it would do so last Saturday.
The three non-executives are expected to use their plans as a bargaining tool at this Friday's crisis board meeting. If Towers does not give in, then they will press ahead with their threat of a no-confidence motion against him.
Lola and Mayflower formed an alliance to work together earlier last week. MG Rover claimed this was not going against the interests of the group, but this may have been because Towers knew nothing of the groups' and Parker's true intentions.
Last week MG Rover attempted to dampen speculation about a boardroom rift.
A spokesman for the group assured The Sunday Times that all four non-executives would publicly express their commitment to both Towers and his plans for the Longbridge plant.
But by the end of the week Towers' public-relations team began to suggest that Parker might be ejected from the car company's board, despite the talk of unanimous support for the chairman.
Written By: David Parsley, The Times
Article Date: Oct 24, 2000