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Union official says announcement of Jaguar, Land Rover sale expected next week

Union official says announcement of Jaguar, Land Rover sale expected next week

Ford Motor Co. and India's Tata Motors Ltd. could announce the sale of British automakers Jaguar and Land Rover on March 5 or 6, a top union official said Monday.
Dave Osborne, automotive industry national secretary for the Unite union, said Tata assured the union last week that it would keep employment in the U.K. around the current 15,300.
Tata also denied press reports that it plans to sell the luxury sports car brand Jaguar shortly after the purchase, or that it wants to build Land Rover off-road vehicles in lower-cost India, Osborne said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
"We do believe that Tata motors, in the event of a sale ... offers the best alternative for our people in the U.K.," Osborne said. "It's a cash-rich company. It's got experience in manufacturing in the automotive industry. It's got a substantial presence in other industries in the U.K."
Ford spokesman John Gardiner would not comment on dates for the sale, and a message was left after business hours for a Tata official.
According to Osborne, Tata has agreed to stick with the Jaguar-Land Rover business plan through 2011. After that, the Indian automaker has expressed interest in growing the company and even adding workers in the U.K., he said.
Tata also will continue to buy components from Ford in the U.K., preserving other Unite jobs, Osborne said.
"The manufacturing footprint will remain unaltered," he said. "The engineering and design studios will remain. There's no plans outside of the business plan to source any more components from low-cost economies."
Talks with Tata concluded last week, and the union will seek a written document after some minor issues are ironed out with Ford, Osborne said.
"Once we've got that, we'll be as happy as we can be," he said.
Cash-hungry Ford, which lost $2.7 billion (euro1.8 billion) last year and $12.6 billion in 2006, has been looking to sell Jaguar and Land Rover for months to help fund the turnaround of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands.
The Dearborn-based automaker has mortgaged its assets to stay operating and expects to burn up $12 billion (euro8.1 billion) to $14 billion (euro9.4 billion) until 2009, when it plans to return to sustained profitability.
Osborne said Tata is confident in the British automakers, despite challenges of meeting new carbon dioxide emissions standards in Europe. There is growth potential in emerging markets, he said.
"There seems to be a relative air of confidence from the company rather than talk about reductions in employment levels post-2012," he said.
Tata Motors is part of Tata Group, India's oldest and largest conglomerate. The family business is owned mostly by Tata-funded charitable trusts. A substantial portion of the group's income is channeled into various philanthropies that have helped build some of the country's finest institutions, including India's first cancer hospital.
Tata companies are known for offering worker benefits that are rare in India, including pension and child care allowances.
Some experts believe the group is still too bloated. Chairman Ratan N. Tata concedes that he has "not been very successful" at pruning the number of companies and downsizing staff, which currently totals about 290,000.
Among Tata's holdings are steel makers and a consulting service that does software engineering and other work for western firms.
Tata Motors built the first fully Indian-designed car, and it plans to build a $2,500 (euro1,687) car later this year.
Ford bought Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.7 billion in 2000, joining them with Aston Martin and Volvo to form its Premier Automotive Group.
Ford has not said how much it wants for the British automakers, although people close to the negotiations have said that potential suitors had submitted bids for both companies ranging from $1.5 billion (euro1.01 billion) to $2 billion (euro1.35 billion).
Last year Ford completed the sale of its controlling stake in Aston Martin for $931 million (euro628 million) in cash and preferred stock.
Ford has said it plans to keep Volvo for now, fixing its cost structure and making it a more premium brand.
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Updated : 2021-04-12 08:52 GMT+08:00