Coventry taxi maker LTI sold to Chinese firm

By Matthew Bates Friday 01 February 2013 Updated: 01/02 11:11

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Buy photos » LTI Taxis, in Holyhead Road, has been sold to Geely. Picture by Jon Mullis 43.012.027.cov.jm1

COVENTRY firm LTI has been taken out of administration after being sold to a Chinese firm.

Geely, which already held a stake in the Holyhead Road-based company, paid £11.04million for Manganese Bronze Holdings, the manufacturer of London black cabs.

Bosses said Geely's priority was to re-establish the manufacture, sale and servicing of vehicles on "broadly the same basis" as before administration, including continued assembly of models at the Coventry plant.

They added other ventures included developing new vehicles, improving energy efficiency and environmental footprints of cabs and dipping into the private hire market.

Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said the firm was determined to restore the fortunes of the iconic brand.

"We are a long-term and committed investor and we believe the illustrious past of the London Black Cab can be matched by a successful and healthy future.

"Despite its recent difficulties, we have long believed that the company and the black cab have huge potential.

"We have ambitious plans for the business and, despite it being clear that there are a number of challenges to be overcome, we are committed to working with all stakeholders to build a solid future for the black cab business that will enable it to return to profitability in the short term and grow substantially in the longer term.

"We intend to use Geely’s knowledge and expertise to improve the MBH business but we also believe that the brand, technology and design knowhow of MBH will create synergies that will benefit Geely and our own model range."

Geely first invested in LTI back in 2006, when it held a 20 per cent stake in the business and established a facility in China.

Chief Financial Officer of the Shanghai-based firm, Donghui Daniel Li, will chair Geely's UK operation while former Manganese Bronze finance director Peter Johansen will become executive vice president.

The deal, announced this morning (Friday), was agreed with PricewaterhouseCoopers, who made 156 staff redundant after being appointed administrators in October 2012.

Unions and axed workers held protests in Coventry and the capital in a bid to keep manufacturing in the UK.

Unite welcomed the deal after what had been genuine fears over LTI's future.

Regional officer Peter Coulson said: "Black cabs have been built in Coventry since the 1948.

"Without the Coventry base the vehicle would have lost its unique character.

"Unite have been in constructive talks with Geely and we look forward to a strong working relationship in the future."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson also welcomed the announcement and added London's cabbies could safely look to the future.

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