A bit of early Christmas cheer arrived late on Friday as Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the administrators for struggling London taxi firm Manganese Bronze, confirmed all 401 vehicles which had been recalled for a steering fault are fixed.
More than 600 largely new and unregistered vehicles, which have come off the production line in Coventry, will see the same new steering replacement system fitted.
PwC said in a statement this phase of work will be completed at a faster rate than the first, as the majority of vehicles are at a single location within a secure compound. The second phase of the fix will be completed by late February, which will conclude the replacement programme for all steering boxes.
The FT reported in November that a former tank commander in the Israeli army had come to the rescue of Manganese Bronze by agreeing to provide new supplies of vital parts that have kept 400 London taxis made by the company off the road.
Gamil Magal is chief executive and main owner of Reading-based Magal Engineering which provided the new stocks of taxi 'steering boxes'. The faulty boxes had previously been made in China.
In even better news, the 12 production employees laid off from the Coventry plant at the end of October have now returned back into full time employment to assist with the ongoing operations of the business.
Matthew Hammond, PwC partner and joint administrator, said in a press release: “I am delighted all the taxis are now repaired and back on the road. I want to thank the company's employees who have been part of a massive effort to get all the vehicles repaired. They have worked extremely hard to ensure the affected taxis were returned to their drivers as quickly as possible and back on the road before Christmas.
"It's been a tough time for all those affected, so it's pleasing to have completed this phase of works on schedule. Throughout this process we have worked closely with the Mayor and Transport for London to provide daily updates on the repairs. Our key suppliers have been enormously helpful and rallied to the cause of helping get the cabs back on the road.
"There's a great deal of goodwill towards this iconic vehicle and we are all committed to securing the best outcome for the company. Although it's too early to say definitively, we are hopeful that we will sell the business as a going concern."
Manganese Bronze went into administration in October after suffering in the current economic climate, competition from Mercedes-Benz Vito, and Chinese manufacturer Geely callig off plans to boost its stake in Manganese from 20% to 51%.
Jobs were lost at both the group's head office and manufacturing site in Coventry, with 99 out of 176 employees there being made redundant when the firm went into administration.
There were more job losses at dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry, with 57 out of 98 employees facing redundancy.
PwC said it remains in advanced, positive negotiations with all bidders that submitted offers; the deadline for second round bids fell on Friday 7 December and the administrators are currently evaluating offers. Discussions are likely to be ongoing through next week and into the Christmas holiday period.
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