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London’s black cab saved by Chinese car firm
February 1, 2013, 11:27 pm

Daniel Li and Matthew Hammond 002

Matthew Hammond (r) welcomes Geely’s new UK chairman, Daniel Li [LTC]

The maker of London’s iconic black taxis has been saved from closure after Chinese car maker Geely bought out the company for 11.04 million pounds ($17.2m).

Manganese Bronze’s vehicles have been on the streets since 1948, but last October the firm went into administration, laying off around a third of its 300-strong workforce.

Geely already owned around a quarter of Manganese Bronze, and on Friday announced they had agreed the purchase of the “business and principle assets” of the company, safeguarding jobs and production at the firm’s plant in Coventry.

“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,” said Li Shufu, chairman of Geely.

The Chinese group’s chief financial director, Daniel Li, will become their UK chairman; he told staff in Coventry that they would be looking at new models to follow the current TX4 as well as “examining the potential for entering the private-hire market”, although he cautioned that it would “take some weeks to restart production”.

Manganese Bronze went into administration after recalling 500 black cabs due to a steering fault, which was the final straw after the group failed to report a profit for four years.

Li confirmed that all of the vehicles affected by the steering problems had been repaired and were back on the road; he added: “This is beginning of a new chapter for the London taxi.”

While the new holding company will be known as Geely UK, the new owner said it will retain the London Taxi Company brand.

Boris Johnson, mayor of London said he was “delighted” with Geely’s decision to buy the company and that he was keen to hear their proposals for producing a “low-emission taxi to serve London in the near future”.

Vince Cable, the UK business secretary said: “It’s only right that the iconic black cabs will be produced in the UK. I’m pleased that workers in the Coventry factory will keep their jobs, thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.”

Source: Agencies