THE lossmaking manufacturer of Britain’s iconic black taxi slipped into administrative receivership after it failed to win a financial lifeline from one of its biggest shareholders.
Manganese Bronze confirmed last week that it was in funding talks with Chinese private automaker Geely, which holds 20 per cent of the company.
But the group, which recently recalled 500 black cabs due to a steering box fault, said yesterday that it had been unable to secure funding with various parties and will bring in administrators. It is understood accountancy group PriceWaterhouseCoopers has been lined up.
Manganese Bronze, which has been in the red since 2008, suspended trading in its shares earlier this month, saying its financial strength was unclear after it discovered the safety defect in its new TX4 model.
At the time the Coventry-based company warned that the recall and a halt in sales would have a “material and detrimental” impact on its cashflow and that it was assessing its options.
The group reportedly asked Geely to agree to a £15 million loan. Manganese said in a statement yesterday that it “remains hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation will provide the platform for a successful business in the future”.
It said it continued to work on the steering box fault. The recall on 12 October exacerbated the impact of a four-year consumer downturn on the group, as rival Eco City Vehicles, which sells the Mercedes Vito taxi, has also been gaining market share.
On the stock market, shares in Manganese have shed more than two-thirds of their value since the beginning of 2012 to 11 October – the last day of trading before the stock was suspended.
Manganese employs nearly 300 staff, and traces its roots to the 19th century when it was a maker of ship propellers in the steam era.
Roger Maddison, national officer for the car industry at the Unite union, called yesterday for the government to step in and support the black cab maker, the last car manufacturer left in Coventry, as “part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage”.
He said the staff who built the “iconic” black taxi were highly skilled, and Unite urged Manganese and the administrators to do everything possible to secure their jobs.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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