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'Ford shouldn't sell Jaguar/Land Rover'

Wed, 30 Jan 2008

By Tim Pollard

Motor Industry

30 January 2008 15:01

A majority of CAR Magazine Online users reckon that Ford is making a mistake by selling Jaguar and Land Rover. Nearly 60 percent of our website users say the Blue Oval shouldn’t flog its premium-badged crown jewels, according to our exclusive online poll.

Ford is poised to announce the sell-off in the next few weeks; a decision is currently tipped for the end of February 2008, according to chief executive Alan Mulally, although deals of this epic scale can sometimes drag on for even longer. Don’t forget it took Ford six months to conclude the sale of Aston Martin in 2007.

Forty percent of CAR readers said Ford was right to sell Jaguar and Land Rover – two British brands with oodles of potential, but which have proved a drain on Ford’s resources since their acquisition. Seven hundred website users took part in our poll.

Indian industrial giant Tata is the preferred bidder for Jaguar and Land Rover, and is expected to pay a solid $2 billion. However, bosses in Dearborn hasn’t yet ruled out the rival bid from the One Equity finance house, led by Mulally’s predecessor Jac Nasser.

Ford is likely to sell the Jaguar/Land Rover business in its entirety, it emerged today. This contrasts with Aston Martin, in which Ford retains a stake. Daimler, too, still owns a fifth of its dumped Chrysler division.

Meanwhile, Jaguar design chief Ian Callum was quoted in this week’s Financial Times claiming that the Ford ownership had been frought with problems and tensions. He disclosed that the X-type compact executive saloon was essentially designed in Detroit, not Coventry, and was presented to the Jag board as a fait accompli. It is essentially a rebodied Ford Mondeo and has never sold in the big numbers hoped for.

Executives at Jaguar and Land Rover are hoping that the new owners, whether in India or the US, will understand their brands better and fund their new-model programmes they need to prosper in a rapidly changing global premium marketplace.

To read Phil McNamara's full and frank interview with Ford chief exec Alan Mulally, read the new March 2008 issue of CAR Magazine

By Tim Pollard