Workers happy as Tatas clinch Jaguar, Land Rover deal

March 26th, 2008 - 6:40 pm ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 26 (IANS) Tens of thousands of British workers Wednesday welcomed Indian automakers Tata Motors’ acquisition of the luxury car brands Jaguar and Land Rover in a deal said to be worth around $2 billion. The deal, said to have been signed late Tuesday, puts one more feather in the cap of the rapidly expanding Tata Group, which already owns Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus and Tetley’s Tea.

Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant, who was in London for the signing, left Tuesday night. Also in town was J.J. Irani, a director of Tata Sons, the promoter of all Tata Group companies, informed sources said.

An announcement on the acquisition was expected to be made at 12 noon GMT (5.30 p.m. in India) simultaneously in India, Britain and the US, the headquarters of Ford Motors, which is selling the two iconic brands.

“We have to let the workers of Jaguar and Land Rover know before anyone else,” a source familiar with the negotiations told IANS.

“We have to let them get on with the work.”

The deal already has the workers’ seal of approval, with the union representing Ford workers having won Tata’s assurances that it will not shed jobs or outsource manufacturing away from Britain.

A third point of issue for the workers has been resolved with Ford filling a deficit in the pension fund - the amount is said be around $300 million.

Ford acquired Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.75 billion in 2000 but put them on the market last year after posting losses of $12.6 billion in 2006 - the heaviest in its 103-year history.

Tata was named by Ford as the preferred bidder in January as it beat off competition from fellow Indian carmaker Mahindra and Mahindra and American buy-up specialist One Equity.

Tata’s acquisition saves up to 40,000 British jobs.

While the three Jaguar and Land Rover factories in Britain employ some 16,000 people, the number swells to between 30,000 and 40,000 when ancillaries are taken into account, according to Andrew Dodgson of Unite, the union that represents Ford workers in Britain.

The only question mark that surrounds the acquisition is one posed by some industry watchers in the US - over the branding of the two luxury brands, given that Tata Motors have unveiled the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, this year.

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata answered his critics saying: “Toyota created Lexus, Nissan has Infiniti. No one is saying, ‘How can BMW handle the Mini?’ But they’ve made a huge success of it.”

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