End of the road for London cab maker

Michael Bow
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ICONIC London black cab maker Manganese Bronze yesterday gave up its fight for survival and called in the administrators, after failing to strike a deal with its Chinese partners to keep the cash-strapped business alive.

The Coventry-based company, which makes the cabs through its subsidiary the London Taxi Company, intends to appoint PwC in the next few days after a week of negotiations with Chinese firm Geely Corporation to bail out the company ended in failure.

Manganese, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market and globally known for its distinctive black London carriages, suspended its shares on 12 October after recalling 400 of its TX4 taxis due to a defect in the steering box.

Administrators will now seek to sell the firm and there are “multiple scenarios”, including a sale to private equity, thought to be on the table.

The Manganese board met yesterday morning to approve the decision. Court papers were lodged after the meeting to seek to take the business into administration.

The firm said in a statement 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”.

Geely, which owns 20 per cent of the firm, offered to stump up the cash to keep the business going after its management flew in to Britain to strike a deal with the firm. However, it is understood the board of directors did not want to accept the “stringent” conditions attached to the deal.

There is currently a temporary shutdown at its Holyhead Road factory site in Coventry with workers on its production line put on a week’s annual leave. The cab maker ran into difficulties after identifying a problem with a steering box it introduced from a new supplier in February. The TX4 was introduced by the firm in 2006.