Parties may come to rescue of collapsed black cab firm

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ADMINISTRATORS at the maker of the iconic London taxi have said it has an “encouraging” list of parties interested in securing its future.

Manganese Bronze has 277 employees including 175 at its headquarters and manufacturing site in Coventry and others spread across its dealerships, including one in Leeds where six people are employed.

Accounting firm PwC, which was officially appointed administrator to Manganese yesterday, said it is reviewing the group’s current financial position to develop a range of options to rescue the business or alternatively dispose of its assets to an investor that can secure the future of the London taxi.

It said it could not comment on the status of the employees at present.

Manganese was reportedly in talks with Chinese private automaker Geely, which owns a 20 per cent stake, over a £15m loan.

But the £75m turnover Manganese group, which recently recalled several hundred black cabs due to a steering fault, said it had been unable to secure funding, after shares in the group were suspended earlier this month, and would bring in administrators.

PwC said Manganese had been making losses for four years due to “a combination of poor UK sales, supply chain issues, and high warranty costs”.

In a statement, PwC said: “These issues were further impacted by the discovery of material accounting errors in the first half of 2012 which increased the extent of the group’s losses.

“More recently, the discovery of a steering fault resulted in the recall of circa 400 vehicles and a suspension of sales which had an immediate detrimental impact on the group’s cash flows. Following a suspension of its shares earlier this month, the group has been unable to secure sufficient funding.

“Without financial support to overcome these operational issues, the group came to the conclusion that it could not continue to trade as a going concern.

“As a result the directors placed the group into administra- tion.”

Matthew Hammond, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: “Our immediate priority is to secure funding in order to explore the options rapidly developed by the management team and key suppliers to resolve the steering box recall.”

He added that PwC has started discussions with “an encouraging list of UK and international interested parties and would encourage any further interested parties to contact us as a matter of urgency”.

The Manganese Bronze group is the manufacturer and retailer of the London taxi, sold in the UK and abroad.

It provides a retail and maintenance service through its wholly-owned dealerships throughout the UK, under the trading name The London Taxi Company.