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Black-cab maker is running out of road

MANGANESE Bronze, maker of London's black taxi, said it is set to appoint administrators after failing to secure funding needed to survive, putting hundreds of British jobs at risk.

Manganese Bronze, whose taxis have been on British streets since 1948, had been in talks with its largest shareholders, including China's Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, to secure a last-minute bailout.

"The issue here was not a lack of opportunity around the quantum of support being offered," chief executive John Russell said. "It was around the ability of Manganese Bronze, a company with a very weak balance sheet, to take on the level of debt required."

Mr Russell said the company had discussed an injection of "tens of millions" of pounds with parties including the company's two largest shareholders, Geely and Toscafund Asset Management.


Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is set to be appointed as administrator.

Earlier this month, the company had 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 issues that have plagued the taxi maker, which coincided with market share gains by rival Eco City Vehicles's Mercedes Vito taxi. Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd is also due to launch its own taxi in Britain.

Manganese Bronze, based in Coventry, has failed to turn a profit since 2007. It suspended trading in its shares earlier this month.

"It's a great shame, because they (Manganese Bronze) build the best cab in the world, but it's no surprise. They never listened to drivers," said Michael, driver of a Manganese cab in London for 30 years.

He pointed to the cost -- at least £37,000 (€46,000) -- high maintenance bills and a lack of after-sales support.

"They took it for granted, too complacent, thought we'd always go back to them and buy another cab; but the drivers aren't doing that any more." (Reuters)

Irish Independent