A joint venture company is to be set up by Manganese Bronze Holdings with a state-owned group in China to build its trademark London 'black cab' taxis.

Manganese subsidiary London Taxis International has signed a letter of intent with China National Bluestar Group and the Lanzhou Municipal People's Government.

The move is LTI's second attempt to get into the Chinese market. The first attempt was with China Brilliance as partner and it ended when the Chinese company ran into financial difficulties.

Executives of MBH have been looking at numerous locations in the Far East to set up a company to build cabs for the region. It may start building cabs from kits in Thailand. The company is also looking at openings in Mexico and North America.

Following the signing of the letter of intent the three parties will submit a feasibility study to the Chinese government in support of a license application for the project.

As the company made its announcement talks also opened yesterday between the management and the Transport and General Workers Unions to find an end to a two-week strike by 200 production workers over a 2.9 per cent one-year pay offer.

Bluestar has its headquarters in Beijing and has total assets of over £1.29 billion.