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Ford to sell Kwik-Fit

Ford is reviewing its worldwide business interests after announcing 22,000 job cuts and five plant closures in the US. Worldwide production will be slashed by almost 1m vehicles a year.

Following last year's departure of chief executive Jac Nasser, Ford is considering offloading non-core assets. It has appointed investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore the options for the Kwik-Fit repair network in the UK.

Kwik-Fit chairman and chief executive Sir Tom Farmer, who sold the business to Ford two years ago, is understood to be considering buying the firm, valued at £600m, back.

“It's still speculation as to what I will do in terms of buying back the company,” he said. “Where we go from here I'm not quite sure, but it won't affect the Kwik-Fit staff.”

Speculation also surrounds Ford's ownership of Warranty Holdings and its stakeholdings in the Lancaster/Polar joint venture and Howard Basford accident repair business. In October, the company sold back its 49% stake in Pendragon's 28 Ford dealerships.

However, a press statement from Ford claimed the manufacturer had no plans to offload Howard Basford or Warranty Holdings.

"Both companies handle significant volumes of business with both Ford and the Premier Automotive Group brands and with our customers - Howard Basford using Ford parts in their repair work and Warranty Holdings in vehicle service contracts sold through the dealer network.

"These companies remain central to our business and our goal of providing the best aftersales and service operation."

Despite mounting problems in the US, Ford was expected to announce this week a return to profit at its European operations, reversing a £830m loss in 2000.

Sir Nick Scheele, Ford chief operating officer, said the results would be “the greatest turnaround in Ford's history”.

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