1 February 2013, Hangzhou/London. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (‘Geely’), the leading Chinese automobile manufacturer, has today acquired the business and the principal assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings (‘MBH’), the manufacturer of the iconic London Black Cab, out of administration on a cash-free, debt-free basis for £11.04m.
The deal, which will safeguard production of one of the most distinctive vehicles in the UK, has been agreed with PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were appointed administrators of the business in October 2012.
The acquisition has been carried out through Geely UK Limited, a subsidiary of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, and includes plant, equipment and property, intellectual property rights, trade marks and the goodwill of the business. It also includes MBH’s 48 per cent stake in the joint venture manufacturing company in Shanghai set up by Geely and MBH in 2009 and MBH’s stock of unsold vehicles.
Geely has been a consistent supporter of MBH since it made an initial investment in the business in 2006 in return for a 19.97 per cent equity stake and established a joint manufacturing facility in China. It was also the biggest single creditor of MBH when the company went into administration.
Geely’s priority will be to re-establish the manufacture, sale and servicing of new and current vehicles on broadly the same basis as existed before the business went into administration. This will include the continued assembly of the TX4 at MBH’s existing Coventry plant in the West Midlands.
Geely has pledged to involve the current workforce as much as possible as it develops plans to ensure MBH has a long-term profitable future, enabling the business to expand and support employment opportunities.
Donghui Daniel Li, Board Member and Chief Financial Officer of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, will become Chairman of the Geely UK Group, and Peter Johansen, formerly Group Finance Director of Manganese Bronze, will be appointed Executive Vice President of Geely UK’s Black Cab operations.
Geely intends to use its extensive knowledge and experience in the automotive sector to maximise synergies and develop commercial opportunities for the London taxi. As part of this, Geely is looking at the future needs of the London taxi market, with a view to developing new models to follow the current TX4, improving the energy efficiency and environmental footprint of the traditional London cab and examining the potential for entering the private hire market.
Li Shufu, Chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said:
“We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of MBH’s business and we are determined to restore the fortunes of this totemic marque which is known, recognised and admired all around the world. 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.”
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, welcomed the announcement, saying:
“I am delighted that Geely has successfully secured the future of the London Taxi Company, ensuring the continuing manufacture of a world famous, fully accessible and instantly recognisable vehicle synonymous with London. London’s cabbies can now look to the future safe in the knowledge that the TX model taxi will continue to serve Londoners for many years to come and I look forward to hearing Geely’s proposals for producing an ultra low emission taxi to serve London in the near future.”