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Chinese buy black cab maker

Chinese car maker Geely has bought Manganese Bronze, the maker of London’s famous black taxis.

The purchase – for the equivalent of 12.8 million euros – safeguards jobs and production of the vehicles in Britain.

Manganese Bronze ran out of money last October and went into administration after the discovery of a safety defect which caused a recall of cabs and halted production.

At that time about a third of its 300 workers were laid off.

Geely, which already owned about a quarter of Manganese Bronze, said it has reached a deal with the administrator to buy “the business and principal assets” of the company, which has not made a profit in five years.

The Chinese stressed they would continue to assemble the taxis at the existing plant in Coventry in central England.

But one analyst, John Zeng, of LMC Automotive, said he didn’t understand the deal, adding Geely’s best hope would be to “move the production line to China, cut costs and sell (the cabs) back to London”.

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, nine percent fewer than in 2010.

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