Ford has moved closer to selling Jaguar and Land Rover by confirming that India’s Tata Motors is its preferred bidder. The US carmaker is selling the two European brands to raise money and pay down some of its mounting debt. The three final bidders are Tata, another Indian car maker – Mahindra and Mahindra – and US-based private equity firm One Equity Partners.
Workers and the unions have indicated that they prefer Tata, one worker at the Land Rover plant in Solihull said: “If we got a private equity firm (buying us), they would just asset strip the place and that would be the end for all of us: they (Ford) keep going on about how Tata is a big company and has got lots of money, and they’ve looked after the other people (in companies) they’ve taken over, so hopefully they’ll do the same for us.”
India has a booming car industry: in 2006 it was worth 20 billion euros, by 2010 it is predicted to reach around 45 billion and by 2015 should be over double that.
Tata is India’s largest car and commercial vehicle maker and if it were to become the new owner of Jaguar and Land Rover it would be the latest instance of a company from the subcontinent buying a high-profile European industrial target. Last year, Tata Steel last year bought the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus.
All of the bidders have reportedly been involved in talks with Ford, the unions and the British government, which wants to safeguard Jaguar and Land Rover manufacturing jobs in the UK.
Ford said over the next few weeks there will be negotiations with Tata at a more detailed level.