Tata preparing to sign Jaguar deal early March

Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 12:42 Hrs
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Mumbai: Tata Motors is all set to sign a landmark deal to take over two iconic British automobile brands, Land Rover and Jaguar, from US carmaker Ford Motor Co early next week.

The company's top brass chose to remain tight-lipped about developments on grounds of "strict confidentiality", according to an official spokesman.

It is likely that Tata Motors will sign a three-way heads of agreement (HoA) with Ford and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) labour unions.

The HoA is likely to be inked within next few days, which will pave the way for Tata Motors to take over the brands by early March.

The main union of workers, Unite, last Friday said it had held "constructive talks" with Tata over its planned acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover.

Unite represents workers at Land Rover and Jaguar and has about 12,000 members.

The various demands raised by Unite relate to long-term job security for JLR workers after the deal, maintaining manufacturing footprint in Britain, maintenance of pension scheme as well as terms and conditions to ensure that employment and engineering work would not be outsourced.

Ford had named Tata Motors, which unveiled the world's cheapest car at $2,500 earlier this year, as the frontrunner to buy its luxury brands and said it would proceed with "focused negotiations at a more detailed level."

According to sources familiar with the deal, Tata Motors was also negotiating 15 to 20 long-term pacts with Ford, which supplies engines, key components and technology for the European brands.

The deal is expected to cost Tata Motors $2 billion.

Ford, which bought Jaguar in 1989 for $2.5 billion, and Land Rover in 2000 for $2.73 billion, is selling off the two iconic British luxury brands to recoup losses made in its American operations.

Ford had announced Jan 3 this year that it had picked Tata as the preferred bidder for its British units.

Tata was one of three bidders left in the race, the other two being fellow Indian carmaker Mahindra and Mahindra and buyout specialists One Equity, which is headed by former Ford chief executive Jacque Nasser.
Source: IANS
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