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3 bids for Jaguar, Land Rover

2007-11-21 09:14
Detroit - Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra is among the three final bidders for Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover units, a person who has been briefed on the negotiations said Tuesday.

Mahindra, which has joined private equity firm Apollo Management LP to bid for the British car brands, is competing against another Indian carmaker, Tata, and US private equity firm One Equity Partners, said the person, who requested anonymity because the talks are private.

All three bidders were meeting on Tuesday with the British government, labour unions and Ford about the sale, the person said.

Labour unions in the United Kingdom are seeking assurances that the sale would not affect employment levels. Combined, Jaguar and Land Rover employ about 15,300 in the U.K.

Cash-hungry Ford, which lost $12.6bn last year but turned an $88m profit in the first nine months of 2007, has been looking to sell Jaguar and Land Rover.

It has mortgaged its assets to borrow money to stay operating and expects to burn up $12bn to $14bn per year until 2009, when it plans to return to sustained profitability.

Jaguar and Land Rover have been hit by unfavourable exchange rates and high production costs in Britain. Ford doesn't break up its earnings for these units.

Jacques Nasser, Ford's chief executive from 1999 to 2001, is involved with the bid from One Equity Partners, an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Former Ford President Nick Scheele joined with New York-based Ripplewood Holdings LLC in its bid for Jaguar and Land Rover, but Ripplewood is out of the running, said the person briefed on the talks.

Ford spokesperson Tom Hoyt would not comment on the bidding, but said the company still is on target to complete the sale by the end of this year or early next year.

Ford bought Jaguar for $2.5bn in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.7bn in 2000, joining them with Aston Martin and Volvo to form its Premier Automotive Group. Ford has not said how much it wants for the combined units, but analysts have estimated they could be worth about $1.5bn.

Earlier this year Ford completed the sale of its controlling stake in Aston Martin for $931m in cash and preferred stock.

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