Key meeting of Tata and Ford union bosses this week

February 19th, 2008 - 11:03 am ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Feb 19 (IANS) Tata Motors executives are to meet with officials of the British union representing Ford for their first detailed talks on Tata’s bid for Jaguar and Land Rover. The talks will be the first since representatives of the union, called Unite, were briefed by Tata on their bid Nov 20, prompting union bosses to declare Tata as their preferred bidder.

“We haven’t really met Tata yet since the presentation last year, so this will be a very important meeting,” Eddie Barrett of Unite told IANS.

The talks are expected to take place in the latter half of the week and follow discussion between Unite and Ford executives Monday, where, Barrett said, union bosses stressed the “importance of preserving the productive capacity” involved in the manufacture of engines, axles and other components for Jaguar and Land Rover.

Barrett said there are 7,000 jobs at stake in the two companies and that “there is no reason to believe any of it is going to be affected.”

Ford is currently in focussed talks with Tata Motors, but hasn’t officially ruled out the two other bidders, Mahindra & Mahindra of India and a private equity group, OneEquity, owned by former Ford chief executive Jacques Nasser.

Tata are said to have offered around $2 billion for the two luxury brands.

Jaguar said last month that it is “entirely relaxed” about a Tata takeover.

“We have shown Tata our new model lines and the planned product cycle. The two national cultures appear to fit together very well and Tata is being very respectful about what we are doing,” said Ian Callum, the director of design who is responsible for the new XF and XK model ranges.

Ford acquired Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.75 billion in 2000 but wants to sell them off as it wants to concentrate on its North American operations, which contributed heavily to record $12.6 billion losses in 2006.

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