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Tata ‘will fight for Ford brands’

Indian vehicle manufacturer Tata would be the most suitable home for Jaguar and Land Rover, according to some in the industry.

Ford Motor Company hopes to dispose of the PAG brands by the end of September, and has begun presenting the businesses to six interested bidders, four venture capitalists including Chrysler owner Cerberus, plus Indian carmakers Tata and Mahindra & Mahindra.

Roy Kishor, motor industry expert at corporate advisory Kroll, believes Tata will fight hardest to win the prestigious brands. It has already demonstrated its huge group resources to do so – in January it paid $6.2bn for steel maker Corus, and in June it raised $450m through a securities issue at the Bombay Stock Market.

Tata already builds volume cars and trucks which are quite “utilitarian” for its domestic market, said Kishor, and would use Land Rover’s 4x4 technology to refine its ranges ready for a sales push into Europe. It would also target India’s huge middle-class with Jaguar and Range Rover.

Kishor believed Tata would take a long-term view of the brands, while the venture capitalists would want to strip costs quickly. He added: “In the short-term Tata could set up a manufacturing solution in India and take the tooling from the old S-Type and XJ to build a medium and large saloon for its home market.”

Once Jaguar and Land Rover are sold, Ford is expected to sell its remaining PAG brand, Volvo. Kishor described this as the “prize” of PAG, because of its profitability, strong management and technology.

“It will get Alan Mulally out of the hole,” said Kishor. Bidders could include Hyundai, which wants a more premium offering, or Volvo Truck to bring it back under Swedish control.

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