Tata purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover delayed

March 5th, 2008 - 9:49 am ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 5 (IANS) Tata Motors’ widely anticipated purchase of the luxury Jaguar and Land Rover marques has been delayed by more than 10 days, a spokesman for the Britain’s largest manufacturing union said. “We have been told that the memorandum of sales will now take place in the week beginning March 17, after the Geneva Motor Show is over,” the spokesman for Unite workers’ union told IANS.

Tata is exhibiting its Rs.100,000 ‘people’s car’ Nano in Geneva, drawing huge crowds.

Sources close to the negotiations between Tata and Ford Motors, the American company which owns the two brands, had earlier said an announcement could be expected March 5 or 6, the union spokesman said.

Although he could not give a reason for the postponement, statements made in Geneva by senior executives of Tata and Ford indicate there are no fundamental problems to be overcome.

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant and Ford vice president Lewis Booth were unusually forthcoming in talking about the deal in Geneva Tuesday. Booth said there were “no major roadblocks” in the way of a deal, and that he expected the sale to be completed by the end of the second quarter.

“These are complex, detailed discussions,” he said in a speech.

Tata, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in Geneva, denied speculation his company planned to sell Jaguar quickly after closing a deal with Ford.

“No, I don’t think that’s been our style. We haven’t flipped companies that we’ve been involved in,” he said.

If anything, he added, Tata has been criticised for not quickly restructuring acquisitions and spinning them off.

Kant told the newspaper that in discussions with Unite officials last month he had stressed Tata’s long-term investment culture and desire to retain the structure of acquired companies.

“There is no attempt to Indianise the companies,” he added.

Unite officials reiterated their preference for the Tata Motors offer after discussions in London Feb 22.

Tata said the practise of moulding an acquired company to look and function more like its new parent is a “more Anglo-Saxon” phenomenon, with “an expectation that if you’re acquired, you will look like the owner.”

Booth said Ford wanted to protect jobs and continue supplying parts to both brands.

“Jaguar/Land Rover is reliant on a lot of Ford parts and will be for a long time. We’re going to be partners with whoever buys Jaguar and Land Rover, not in a financial sense, but as a supplier,” he said, echoing a demand that has previously been made by Unite officials.

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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