Chief executive of black cab firm quits

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The Independent Online

Ian Pickering, the chief executive of the black cab maker Manganese Bronze, unexpectedly parted company with the business yesterday after eight years on the board.

In a short statement to the stock market, the group's chairman, Tim Melville-Ross, said that, having completed a period of restructuring, the company was ready to move into a new phase, focusing on growth.

Mr Pickering had been at the helm for five years, before which he was group finance director for three years. Although the group has had mixed fortunes over the past few years, Mr Pickering oversaw a turnaround in its fortunes in recent months, offloading its loss-making cab-hailing service, Zingo, and increasing production in the UK.

He left the company with immediate effect yesterday, "to pursue other interests". The company said a replacement would be announced in due course.

"Ian's departure follows the completion of the restructuring process begun in 2003," said Mr Melville-Ross, who also chairs Royal London, DTZ and Bovis Homes. "Our focus now is on our strategy for growth. The board would like to thank Ian for his contribution to the company over the past eight years, first as finance director and then as chief executive. We wish him well in his future career."

Manganese is exploring expansion possibilities in Asia, and is in talks with a consortium about the possibility of starting production in Pakistan. It is in the process ofexporting 300 black cabs to Pakistan, is trying to secure a licence to start production in China, and is exploring the possibility of entering the Mexican market.

Shares in Manganese rose 2 per cent to 232.5p yesterday, giving the group a market value of £43.8m.