Failed Manganese bid prompts former chairman to sell out

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The Independent Online

Jamie Borwick, who quit as chairman of Manganese Bronze last year to mount a £14m takeover bid for the black cab maker, ended more than 40 years' association with the company yesterday by selling his family's 38 per cent stake.

Jamie Borwick, who quit as chairman of Manganese Bronze last year to mount a £14m takeover bid for the black cab maker, ended more than 40 years' association with the company yesterday by selling his family's 38 per cent stake.

The share sale comes just weeks after Mr Borwick tried to use his shareholding to oust the current chief executive Ian Pickering.

The Borwick family raised about £15m from selling its 7.2 million shares to a range of institutional investors. The company's shares leapt 17.5p to 227.5p on the news.

Tim Melville-Ross, the chairman, said he welcomed Mr Borwick's move, which will bring the curtain down on a stormy relationship with the company's largest shareholder. "[The] placing ... widens our shareholder base and will improve liquidity, making the company a more attractive investment opportunity."

Mr Borwick was chairman for more than 20 years before stepping down in January 2003 to mount his failed takeover bid, at about 80p a share. He declined to comment on the reasons for his share sale beyond bidding his friends in the taxi business farewell in a brief statement. "I wish Manganese Bronze well in what I am sure will be an interesting future," he added.

Under Mr Pickering, the company had transformed its fortunes - until it issued a profits warning last week. His restructuring drive involved a string of deals designed to enable the group to focus on selling taxis. It sold its loss-making components business and ended a problematic joint venture in China, as well as completing a sale and leaseback deal on its main factory in Coventry.

It blamed its profits warning on its "Zingo" mobile phone cab hailing service, which is struggling to break even. The project has cost the company £10m, dragging it to a £1.9m loss for the first half of its financial year and jeopardising its chances of ending the year in the black.

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