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Jaguar talks down fresh sale speculation

Jaguar has denied a fresh wave of speculation over its future Ford ownership.

Ford has confirmed it is bringing in a former investment banker to beef up its restructuring programme aimed at stemming continuing financial losses and combating falling sales.

Kenneth Leet, who previously worked for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, will be reviewing poorly performing units, including Jaguar. Leet will report directly to Bill Ford and work closely with senior management in exploring a range of strategic alternatives for the company.

Leet's appointment followed an unexpected $123 million (£66 million) lurch back into the red by the group in the second quarter.

Ford bought Jaguar for £1.6 billion in 1989 and since has absorbed billions of pounds more in refinancing and development costs.

Leet is also expected to look at potential asset sales or alliances with other companies.

Rumours that Ford is looking to dump the brand have been rife in automotive industry circles in the UK for some time.

There has been speculation that Renault is a possible buyer.

But those rumours have been consistently and firmly denied by Ford, with Lewis Booth, the group's most senior European executive, stating in March "it's not an option".

Responding to reports, a Jaguar spokesman said: "As far as Jaguar is concerned there is no change in our situation. Clearly there is a lot of speculation but the recovery plan that we announced in 2004 is making progress and is on track.

"We are turning the business around. The XK has been incredibly successful and is almost sold out this year. We always said that our recovery would be product-led and the XK is proof of that. There are others to come."

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