Ford fears add complexity to Jag and Land Rover bidding

Those of us outside of Ford have little idea about what Ford is really planning to do with its remaining PAG brands, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo. If nothing else, it does seems clear that Ford wants to get rid of Jaguar and Land Rover at something above fire sale prices, and it would like to keep Volvo if it can find the money and concentration to run it properly. When it comes to Jag and Rover, the surprising revelation is that even the companies bidding for the British marques have little idea about what they're getting.

Names of potential bidders continue to bob up, the latest being American equity firms TPG and Ripplewood Holdings. But Ford hasn't given any of the bidders a complete financial picture of Jaguar and Land Rover, nor have any of the bidders even been allowed to visit the factories or speak to senior management. Potential buyers have also been told not to bid if they plan on closing factories or moving production out of Britain. We can't help but think these are odd constraints to place on such a potentially large transaction -- up to $8 billion, according to some estimates. Bidders are being asked to stump up for two companies they know little about, including one that has lost a fortune, and that they cannot change them in drastic ways to render them profitable.

Ford is ostensibly worried about damage to its reputation if it relinquishes the two hallowed names to slash-and-burn overseers. Ford is the number one selling brand in Britain, and doesn't want residual anger over its treatment of Jag and Land Rover to affect its position. If this sale is a 15-round fight, we're only in Round 3 -- and it look like it's going to be a long, fascinating match all the way to the end.

[Source: Detroit News]

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