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London black cab maker Manganese Bronze enters administration

Manganese Bronze, 20% owned by China’s Geely, has failed to turn a profit since 2007.

The maker of London’s black cabs has fallen into administration, putting almost 300 British jobs at risk.

Manganese Bronze, which has been making black cabs since 1948, said talks with various parties to secure last-minute rescue funds had ended in failure. The company – which manufactures the cabs in China – employs 288 people in Coventry. It is expected to call in administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Manganese was locked in emer

gency talks with executives from Geely, the Chinese carmaker, over the weekend in an attempt to secure a bailout. Geely already owns 20% of the company but negotiations broke down and Manganese said the two could not agree on “acceptable” terms. Manganese’s chief executive, John Russell, had said the group needed several million pounds a month to stay afloat.

Manganese said on Monday it remained hopeful that “its global reputation will provide the platform for a successful business in the future”.

The black cab maker has had a disastrous 12 months. Earlier this month it was forced to recall 400 black cabs after discovering a steering fault. It also suspended its shares and warned its financial position would be “unclear” until it had found a way to fix the fault.

This summer Manganese enjoyed a spectacular piece of marketing at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, when the Spice Girls danced on top of five black cabs, but the glow was shortlived as the company revealed a £3.9m black hole in its accounts just days later, forcing a delay to its half-year results.

They were eventually released a fortnight ago, to show the group generated a pre-tax loss of £3.6m for the first half of 2012. Sales dropped 11% to £34.3m.

A former British success story, Manganese has failed to turn a profit since 2007. The company has faced growing competition after cab drivers were given permission to use the Mercedes Vito, breaking Manganese’s monopoly. Japanese carmaker Nissan is also working on a version of the black cab.

Manganese shares – which were suspended at 10p, valuing the company at just £3m – have fallen 70% in the past year. Just five years ago, they were changing hands at more than 800p each.

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