THEY have been an iconic symbol of London for more than 60 years and played a feature role in the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Games last summer. But now the maker of London's black cabs have been sold out of British hands. And in a reflection of the change in global commerce, the buyer is Chinese.
Coventry-based Manganese Bronze announced last week that it is being bought by Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, a division of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, in a deal worth GBP17.5million ($F48.5m). Manganese had been operating under bankruptcy protection since October after years of losses and a string of mechanical troubles. Geely already owned 20 per cent of the company and will now take full control.
Geely said it would maintain production of the cabs at the Manganese plant in Coventry, which has been idle since the company filed for protection. However, it isn't clear how many of the roughly 107 remaining staff will be kept on.
The sale marks a turning point in the history of the black cabs. The famous taxis date back to the end of the Second World War, when the first Austin FX3 cabs rolled off the production line.