Jaguar and Land Rover - Are They Tata's Cup of Tea?

27 August 2007

MUMBAI: There will be mixed feelings today (Monday) in Britain's West Midlands region following news that India's Tata Group is mulling a bid for Ford Motor Company's Jaguar and Land Rover marques.

The Indian conglomerate, which already owns UK steel giant Corus as well as the iconic Tetley Tea brand, confirmed Friday that it is considering a bid for the two auto lines, currently up for auction by cash-strapped Ford.

Ford, despite alleged failings towards the UK brands in other respects, honored its undertaking to retain their respective production facilities in the West Midlands region.

But should Tata succeed in its bid there is no guarantee that some or all elements of production would not be transferred to the Indian subcontinent where labor costs are a fraction of those in Europe and the USA.

Also currently eyeing the two marques are US private equity groups One Equity Partners, led by former Ford ceo Jacques Nasser, and Ripplewood Holdings, "advised" by quondam Ford executive Nick Scheele.

However, given the impact on the US debt industry of fallout from the current subprime crisis, the private equity sector can no longer take its borrowing powers for granted.

A situation that could leave Tata with a clear run.

The Indian giant's interest in Jaguar/Land Rover was confirmed at the highest level by the group's chairman Ratan Tata, who also leads its vehicle manufacturing arm.

Tata's ninety-six companies employ some 200,000 people and have annual sales of over $20 billion.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff