DETROIT – An Indian carmaker that will unveil the world’s cheapest car next week may soon produce two of the world’s premier brands as well.
Ford Motor Co. revealed Tata Motors Ltd. was the top bidder for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands yesterday and entered into “focused negotiations at a more detailed level,” meaning Tata was named preferred bidder for the storied British automakers.
“While no final decision has been made, we will proceed with further substantive discussions with Tata Motors over the forthcoming weeks,” Lewis Booth, executive vice president of Ford’s European units, stated in a release.
Ford executives have said they expect to sell the two British automakers early this year.
Ford spokesman Jay Ward in London would not say how much Tata bid, nor would he say whether two other bidders, Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and US private equity firm One Equity Partners LLC, still were in the running. Last month, people close to the negotiations with Ford said potential suitors had submitted bids for both companies ranging from $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
A person briefed on the negotiations who requested anonymity because the talks are confidential said yesterday that Mahindra and One Equity still were under consideration, although Tata is the likely buyer. “Ford hasn’t told them to go away, and that’s the end of it,” the person said. “Tata’s emerged as the preferred partner.”
Tata plans to unveil its ultracheap $2,500 car next week.
Tata chairman Ratan Tata said recently that acquiring Jaguar and Land Rover would help bring global visibility to his group – a sprawling conglomerate that makes a variety of products, including steel and software.