China's Geely buys maker of London taxis

Chinese automaker Geely said Friday it had acquired the maker of London's iconic black taxis for 11.04 million pounds ($17.50 million) after the British company collapsed into administration.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which already owns Sweden's Volvo Cars, will take over all business and core assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings to help its international expansion, it said in a statement.

In 2006, Geely bought a near 20 percent stake in Manganese Bronze, but the Coventry-based company was put into administration -- a form of creditor protection -- due to financial problems in October last year.

Geely chairman Li Shufu pledged to restore the firm's business back to its levels before its difficulties and to continue to produce its latest model, the TX4, at the Coventry plant.

"As a long-term investor who has a commitment to the firm, we have the determination to rebuild the future of the globally renowned and respected brand," Li said in the statement.

"We're very pleased to have completed the acquisition of Manganese Bronze's business," he added.

Matthew Hammond, lead joint administrator at PricewaterhouseCoopers also welcomed the deal, which he said followed an extensive search for a buyer.

"I am delighted to announce the completion of this deal which secures a future for the Coventry based manufacturer of the iconic Black Cab. It is great news for London Black cab drivers and operators," he said in a statement.

Geely, one of China's largest private automakers, said last month that its domestic sales rose 15 percent annually to 483,000 vehicles in 2012.

It targeted 16 percent annual growth in sales this year to 560,000 vehicles.

China's overall auto sales rose just 4.3 percent year-on-year in 2012 to 19.31 million vehicles, up from 2.5 percent growth in 2011, when 18.51 million units were sold.

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