Taxi maker Manganese Bronze sold for £11m sterling

Friday 01 February 2013 10.25
Manganese Bronze deal means London taxis will continue to be made in UK
Manganese Bronze deal means London taxis will continue to be made in UK

Chinese car maker Geely has bought Manganese Bronze, the maker of London's black taxis, for £11m sterling.

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

Geely, which already owned about a quarter of Manganese Bronze, said it had agreed a 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," he added.

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 taxi maker and coincided with market share gains by rival Eco City Vehicles' Mercedes Vito taxi. Japan's Nissan is also due to launch its own taxi in Britain.

In 2006, Geely paid £53m for a 23% stake in Manganese Bronze and 52% of a Shanghai-based joint venture with the company. However, it took a charge of 100 million yuan ($16m) to write down that investment in 2008.

As well as technical difficulties, Manganese has been hit by a weak economy and delays in fulfilling key orders. The company sold 1,502 taxis in 2011, 9% fewer than in 2010.

Manganese reported a loss of £4.6m in the six months to the end of June on sales 11% lower than the same time a year earlier.

London mayor Boris Johnson said he was "delighted" with the news and is keen to hear Geely's proposals for producing a "low-emission taxi to serve London in the near future".