Up to six different potential buyers are expected to place bids for the Jaguar and Land Rover brands when the auction for the British automakers gets underway later today. In the running are private equity firms Cerberus, Ripplewood Holdings and One Equity Partners, plus new entrants Tata Motors and Mahindra.

Tata Motors is already in negotiations with Fiat over a deal to build Fiat cars in India, and together, the two may form a new joint-venture to finance the bid for the British marques. According to reports, Tata has instructed several merchant bankers to evaluate the possibility of a joint offer for Jaguar and Land Rover, and both Tata and Mahindra recently signed confidentiality agreements.

Automakers Renault and Nissan have reportedly dropped out of contention, as did Hyundai, which yesterday announced that it has no plans to acquire any companies in the near future.

It's expected Ford won't announce the winning bidder for several months as it will take time for all the companies to do their due diligence.

[Source: Forbes]