Tata to buy Jaguar and Land Rover

UPDATE #7 This rumor is now finally upgraded to 'fact.' Ford Motor Co.'s agreement to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors Ltd. marks the end of its Premier Automotive Group — the international luxury collection that was the centerpiece of former CEO Jacques Nasser's failed attempt to transform the Dearborn automaker from an American icon into a truly global automotive empire.

Under the terms of the deal, which was announced Wednesday, Ford will receive about $2.3 billion for the two British brands. That money will do little to offset the billions Ford has poured into the marques over the past two decades, but will bring the automaker one step closer to realizing CEO Alan Mulally's new vision of "One Ford" focused on fixing its Blue Oval brand.

"We are confident that they are leaving our fold with the products, plan and team to continue to thrive under Tata's stewardship," Mulally said in a statement. "Now, it is time for Ford to concentrate on integrating the Ford brand globally, as we implement our plan to create a strong Ford Motor Co. that delivers profitable growth for all."

Mulally's plan represents a major reversal of the strategy Nasser outlined in 1999 when he created the Premier Automotive Group out of Aston Martin, Jaguar and Lincoln, later adding Volvo and Land Rover. At the time, he predicted the luxury group would become a major contributor to Ford's bottom line.

Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 for $2.5 billion. It was widely viewed as a vanity purchase for which Ford overpaid. Since then, Ford has invested about $10 billion in the brand, including a $1.2 billion bailout in 2005. Despite the cash infusions, Jaguar continues to lose money — about $715 million in 2006 alone.

Nasser added Land Rover to the stable in 2000, paying BMW AG $2.75 billion for the brand.

Jaguar and Land Rover have cost Ford somewhere between $11 billion and $13 billion when the financial losses they generated are added to Ford's investments in the marques. [Editor's Note: And to think, the execs received all those large bonuses over the years for such great management. And you wonder why Ford is going under?]

03/25/08 U.S. automaker Ford has agreed to sell its luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors for more than $2 billion (1 billion pounds), according to a source familiar with the matter.

Ford, which signed the deal on Tuesday, plans to publicly announce the transaction in New York on Wednesday, said another source.

The deal will also see Ford pay about 300 million pounds into Jaguar and Land Rovers' pension funds, according to unions.

Ford declined to comment, adding "our first responsibility is to communicate with our employees." International Herald Tribune

03/25/08 Three months after India's Tata Motors Ltd. emerged as the lead bidder for Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar and Land Rover brands, the two companies appear to have a deal, according to sources familiar with the situation. A formal announcement of the sale is expected Wednesday.

Tata reportedly will pay about $2 billion for the two British luxury brands, the sources said, and Ford will make a one-time contribution of $600 million to the pension fund for Jaguar and Land Rover workers.

The one-off payment would be made once the deal is completed, which is expected by the end of June.

The announcement will be made at Ford headquarters in Dearborn.

It is being timed to coincide with Jaguar and Land Rover employees' return from the Easter holiday.

One source stressed that previous deadlines in the negotiations had been missed due to disagreements occurring at the last minute, but that person was not aware of any outstanding concerns this time.

Ford would not officially confirm the date, but said a deal is close. Detroit News

03/18/08 Ford Motor Co. could sell storied British automakers Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors Ltd. by the middle of next week, according to rumors. An agreement could come as soon as March 26th.

02/05/08 Tata Motors on Monday said it was pleased with the negotiations to acquire Ford Motor Co's luxury brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, and hoped to cut a deal in weeks.

Tata Motors, India's top vehicle maker that unveiled the world's cheapest car in January, has been in talks with Ford since it was chosen as the front-runner to buy the brands.

"Tata Motors is pleased by the progress in the discussions with Ford to date and hopes that both parties can reach an agreement in the forthcoming weeks," Debasis Ray, head of corporate communications, said in a statement.

The company denied media reports that Tata may share the technology of Jaguar and Land Rover with Italy's Fiat, with which it has a joint venture to make cars and engines in India and an alliance for trucks in Latin America and Europe.

"Tata Motors, which is engaged in focused and detailed negotiations with Ford on the Jaguar Land Rover business, clarifies that the company has had no discussions with Fiat on deployment of technologies developed by Jaguar and Land Rover."

01/07/08 The Ford Motor Company has informed its Jaguar and Land Rover workers that it is in "focused negotiations" to sell the two brands to India's Tata Motors. Jaguar and Land Rover have been up for sale for six months but this is the first time that Ford has publicly revealed a possible buyer.

Tata is India's leading producer of commercial vehicles and the country's second biggest passenger car company. Buying the two British brands is part of an expansion program which aims to turn Tata into a major player in the automotive world in the future. Tata already has the Tata Motors European Technical Centre at the University of Warwick in England. This is a centre of excellence that is designed to accelerate the company’s technical capabilities. Grandprix.com

12/21/07 India's Tata Motors is set to be named as the preferred buyer for Ford Motor's (F.N) luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover as early as Friday after beating rivals with a bid of around $2 billion, Indian and British media reported. The group has had its 1 billion pound bid ($1.98 billion) accepted by Ford … The firm has beaten off competition from rival Indian firm Mahindra and Mahindra and private equity group One Equity Partners," the Birmingham Post reported, citing unnamed Land Rover sources.

"It is definitely Tata. There is one final meeting and so long as there are no last minute hitches, which are not expected, an announcement will be made on Friday," one of the sources said.

The Financial Times, citing people close to the situation, said Tata had pulled ahead of Mahindra & Mahindra and One Equity, with an offer in the range of $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion.

A spokeswoman for Tata declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mahindra & Mahindra.

11/25/07 Tata, the Indian conglomerate headed by Ratan Tata, has moved into pole position in the 1.5 billion pounds race to buy Jaguar and Land Rover, two of Britain's most prestigious car marques.

Quoting sources close to the negotiations, media on Sunday reported that positive meetings last week between Ravi Kant, managing director of Tata Motors, and trade union and government officials have given the Indian conglomerate an edge over its rivals.

It still faces stiff competition from One Equity, an American private-equity group, and Mahindra and Mahindra, the Indian car group that is bidding with Apollo, another American buyout firm.

Ford, the American automotive giant that is selling the two marques, could choose a preferred bidder within the next three weeks. The company is selling Jaguar and Land Rover as a single unit.

One Equity's bid is led by Jac Nasser, a former chief executive at Ford.

While Jaguar is loss-making – it is feared to lose about 500 million dollars this year – Land Rover is having a purple patch. India Times

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