Ford Mulls Sale of Ritzy Marques to Ex-CEO Nasser

28 August 2006

DEARBOURN, Michigan: Still reeling from its eyewatering half-year loss of $1.44 billion (€1.13bn; £762.55m), Ford Motor Company is holding closed-doors talks with a group led by the chief executive it fired five years ago - Jacques Nasser. The sole agenda item is the future of Ford's luxury brands unit Premier Automotive Group.

PAG comprises five fiscally backfiring brands - Aston Martin, Land Rover, Volvo and red ink-wise, most notably, Jaguar - all formerly successful independent European marques.

According to insiders, the talks center on Jaguar and Land Rover. Facing the Ford contingent across the table is One Equity Partners, a unit of J P Morgan Chase led by Nasser.

The talks take place against a background of losses in Ford's largest market, North America, in seven of the last eight quarters. For long number two in the US and world markets to General Motors, Ford was recently elbowed into third place by Japan's Toyota.

It is currently considering a range of strategic options and earlier this month hired former Goldman Sachs mergers-and-acquisition specialist Kenneth Leet as a strategic adviser [WAMN: 03-Aug-06].

Observes David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research: "The people at Ford are feeling highly vulnerable right now, and when you feel vulnerable, you put everything on the table."

  • Meantime, British construction and agricultural machinery tycoon Sir Anthony Bamford has let it be known he could be interested in buying Jaguar if Ford is prepared to unyoke the troubled marque from Land Rover.

    Speaking late last week to the Financial Times in Bonneville, Utah, Bamford, who chairs the multinational JCB Group, said: "If [Ford] can separate Jaguar out then I'd like to buy it."

    But according to Bamford, Jaguar would need downsizing. "The little car [X-type] needs to go. The S-type is critical and the XJ is a very good car but it needs a re-skin." He also slammed Ford's cancellation of its F-type roadster project.

    It is not thought that even 'feeler' discussions between Bamford and Ford have taken place. But in its current plight it is likely the US auto giant would consider any pragmatic solution.

    Data sourced from and Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff