Sun, Jul 29, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Ford to give more data to Jaguar and Land Rover bidders


Ford Motor Co, unwinding a two-decade luxury-car strategy, will provide more detailed financial data to bidders for UK-based Jaguar and Land Rover, the company's finance chief said.

"They've looked at some information," chief financial officer Don Leclair said in an interview on Thursday. Ford is sharing more materials because "there's another level of diligence" as the company pursues bids further, he said.

"We've concluded it's probable we will sell," Leclair said, declining to say how long the process might take. Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford received tentative bids last week, and hasn't disclosed the number or the bidders' identities.

Unloading Jaguar and Land Rover would free resources and management attention for returning Ford's North American automotive operations to profit. Ford sold UK-based Aston Martin in May and said on Thursday it's working on a "strategic review" of Sweden-based Volvo to be done by year's end.

Ford began its foray into European luxury brands in 1987 by buying a controlling stake in Aston Martin, which makes sports cars costing US$100,000 or more.

The US automaker bought Jaguar in 1989 for US$2.5 billion, Volvo in 1999 for US$6.45 billion and Land Rover in 2000 for US$2.73 billion. After putting Aston Martin on the block last year, Ford sold it for US$848 million to investors led by UK auto-racing champion David Richards.

On Friday, Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy raised his rating on Ford to "neutral" from "sell" after the automaker reported earnings of US$750 million for the second quarter, its first quarterly profit in two years.

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