Sale to Tata to be confirmed tomorrow – and Fiat is interested in technology sharing
25 March 2008

Ford Motor is due to announce a long-awaited agreement to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to India’s Tata Motors on Wednesday.The sale is expected to have a price tag of about $2bn and will include a pledge by Ford to contribute to the two brands’ pension fund, and by Tata to continue buying engines from Ford – both sensitive points with trade unions.With all major details of the sale already agreed by last week, announcement of the deal had been awaiting the return to work of Jaguar’s employees, who are still on Easter leave Tuesday, so that Ford can brief them on it first.Ford is not commenting on the timing of the announcement, but recently said there were “no major roadblocks” preventing it. Tata said its discussions with Ford were ongoing, but declined to comment.In another potential boost to the two brands’ future, Fiat’s chief executive confirmed that he was interested in working with them if the sale to Tata goes through.“I think I would be more than pleased to collaborate with Tata in terms of Jaguar/ Range Rover, if in fact it ends up being owned by them,” Sergio Marchionne told the FT in an interview.Mr Marchionne added that the two companies had held no talks on the brands with Tata because of the negotiations with Ford. Some of the conditions of Ford’s sale of the brands to Tata “may prohibit the collaboration with us,” he added.Ratan Tata sits on Fiat’s board, and Fiat and Tata produce cars, engines and transmissions together in India. Early in Ford’s long-running auction of the two brands, Fiat turned down an invitation to bid for them.However, the Italian carmaker is interested in introducing rear-wheel drive vehicles to the range of Alfa Romeo, the premium brand it is reintroducing to the US.Mr Marchionne said that Fiat might be interested in working with Jaguar, among other possible partners, to build rear-wheel drive vehicles. Land Rover and Jaguar’s US distribution network might also be interesting to Alfa, Mr Marchionne said: “I think the Range Rover/Jaguar distribution network in the United States, either together or stand-alone, would have all the requisite elements for Alfa,” he said.

Hilton Holloway

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