'Jac the Knife' Heads Private Equity Bid for Jaguar, Land Rover

07 August 2007

LONDON: Ousted Ford Motor Company ceo Jacques Nasser, these days senior partner for mergers and acquisitions at JPMorgan Chase & Co subsidiary One Equity Partners, is set to jet into the UK to bid for the Jaguar and Land Rover marques.

The former auto honcho, infamous for his cost-cutting methods and dubbed 'Jac the Knife' during his three-year tenure at Ford, will reportedly try to sweet-talk UK unions into believing that the jobs of Jaguar and Land Rover workers are safe in his hands. He will have an uphill task.

The unions are strongly opposed to takeover of the two firms by any private equity group - a breed increasingly seen in the UK as short-termist asset strippers - and are vigorously lobbying the government to block any sale to a p/e buyer.

Cash-strapped Ford needs the best price it can get for its British units - acquired just seven years ago by the self-same Nasser - and would prefer an outright one hundred per cent sale.

But the moneymen insist that Ford retains a significant stake in both businesses to ensure continuity of engine and parts supplies.

The sale process has now moved into its second phase, with at least five p/e groups picking over the bones: One Equity, Texas Pacific Group, Cerberus, Ripplewood, and Apollo. While lurking on the fringes are two Indian automakers, Tata and Mahindra & Mahindra

Said a spokesman for Unite, an alliance of the relevant UK unions due to meet with Ford this week: "We want Ford to agree that if they are going to sell Jaguar and Land Rover they ensure there is a long-term commitment to keeping production, research and development and stamping at existing facilities."

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff