Folks might have snickered and sneered before -- and still might be -- but India's Tata appears to be in the catbird seat for the chance to gobble up Jaguar and Land Rover. After the other Indian bidder, Mahindra & Mahindra, dropped out because of a questions over the Ford parts supply, the two bidders left are Tata and One Equity Partners. Tata is being advised by Fiat in the bid, and One Equity is the private investment firm whose bid is led by former Ford exec Jac Nasser.

The British trade union Unite, which represents workers from both brands, met with the bidders and -- while it still opposes the sale entirely -- declared that "based on serving the best interests of the union members at Jaguar-Land Rover, the stewards agreed that Tata best fits these criteria." Tata has apparently agreed to keeping top management in place, as well as keeping jobs in England.

The position, while at one time surprising, makes sense. Tata is looking for European expertise and development, and the kind of knowledge that Nasser surely believes he already has. The unions, though, also said that Tata had a better cash and resource position in their opinion than did One Equity. That could be very important, if true, because Ford will have no part of the companies after they are sold, so whoever buys will need to be able to pay for or develop new parts. The question now is: if it comes down to a choice, does Ford do what's best for Jag and Rover, or what's best for Ford?

[Source: Auto Industry UK]


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