London cab maker sold to Chinese firm for £11m

The iconic London cab will continue to be made in Coventry
The iconic London cab will continue to be made in Coventry
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BRITAIN’S iconic black cabs have been rescued by Chinese car maker Geely which has bought Manganese Bronze, the Midlands-based manufacturer.

• The taxi will continue to be made in Coventry

• Geely had a 20 per cent holding in the firm before it entered administration

Manganese, whose taxis have been on British streets since 1948, went into administration in October, with about a third of its 300-strong workforce losing their jobs.

Geely, which already owned about a quarter of the company, said yesterday it had agreed an £11 million deal with administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers to buy “the business and principal assets” of the company.

“Geely’s priority will be to re-establish the manufacture, sale and servicing of new and current vehicles on broadly the same basis as existed before the business went into administration,” Geely chairman Li Shufu said.

“This will include the continued assembly of the TX4 at Manganese Bronze’s existing Coventry plant in the West Midlands.”

Manganese Bronze has failed to turn a profit since 2007. Late last year the company said its financial position was unclear after the discovery of a safety defect in its new TX4 model that led to a recall of 400 taxis and a halt to sales.

The recall was the latest in a spate of problems to have plagued the firm and coincided with market share gains by Eco City Vehicles’ Mercedes Vito taxi. Nissan is also due to launch its own taxi in Britain.

Manganese shares closed at 10p on 11 October, the last day they traded on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the company at about £3m.

In 2006, Geely paid £53m for a 23 per cent stake in the firm and 52 per cent of a Shanghai-based joint venture with the company. However, it took a hefty write down on that investment in 2008.