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No quick sale for Jaguar and Land Rover

12 June 2007

  • Ford may offload blue-chip brands
  • Company to insist one buyer takes both makes
  • Wholesale review as Ford tries to cut losses

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Ford has admitted it wants to sell luxury British car marques Jaguar and Land Rover - but has stressed it is not imminent.

Widespread reports suggested a sale was in the offing, and British politicians have been briefed about the plans, but Ford spokesman John Gardiner said: 'Nothing is imminent. We are still assessing our options, and we are not ruling anything in or out. We are working with our financial advisers to determine the best future for Land Rover and Jaguar and that's going to take time.'

Gardiner also stressed that any sale would not affect any buyers of either brand.

What has gone wrong at Ford?
If Ford offloads the brands, it would mark a move back to mass-production cars, rather than top-end niche vehicles, which have made heavy losses for the American company.

It has been trying to cut its costs after it announced losses of £700 million in the first three months of 2006. It reduced those losses to £141 million in the first three months of 2007, but recognises it is still in need of major restructuring.

Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 and Land Rover in 2000, running them under its Premier Automotive Group (PAG) umbrella. However, competition from Asian and US car makers has put the brands under pressure, especially as buyers increasingly opt for more environmentally friendly cars.

The future of fellow PAG marque Volvo has also been the subject of sale speculation recently, underlining the company-wide scale of Ford's review.

So who will buy Jaguar and Land Rover?
Last year, Land Rover enjoyed record sales, making the company profitable. However, Jaguar is losing money, which is why analysts expect Ford insist that the new buyer acquires both brands in the same deal.

The most likely buyer is a private equity firm. Both Fiat Auto and Renault have said they have no interest in buying the brands. However, private equity firm Alchemy Partners, which bought the MG Group in 2000, is reported to be lining up a £3 billion offer.

This would follow recent market trends, with US car maker Chrysler sold to private equity group Cerberus. In March, Ford sold sports car firm Aston to a UK- and Kuwaiti-led consortium for £479 million.

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