British Jaguar dealers give thumbs up to Indian bidders

Saturday 08 December 2007, 00:00 AM by Viktor

London, Dec 7 (IANS)

A spokesman for British Jaguar car dealers has brushed aside American dealers' claims that there may be image problems if any of the two Indian bidders for Jaguar and Land Rover succeed in buying out the iconic British brands.

Ken Gorin, chairman of the Jaguar Business Operations Council, said last week that owners Ford should sell the marques to One Equity, an American group headed by a former Ford chief executive, rather than to frontrunners Tata Motors or Mahindra and Mahindra.

'I don't believe the US public is ready for ownership out of India' of the luxury-car brands, Gorin told the Wall Street Journal, saying it would raise 'doubt over the viability of the brand.'

But his claim was dismissed by chairman of the British Jaguar dealers' council James Brearley, who said it 'was a little bit narrow.'

'After speaking to most of my members, we are very happy with any of the three companies. We wanted assurances over the future and product plans, and they all have given that,' Brearley said.

Although Tata are the preferred bidders of Ford unions, doubts have been raised in the US over branding, given that Tata are about to manufacture the world's cheapest car - and both Jaguar and Land Rover are considered expensive luxury brands.

Tata were also able to reassure British unions about jobs in Jaguar and Land Rover factories.

Meanwhile, Ford is expected to decide on a buyer in two weeks, the Times reported a day after three submitted fresh bids.

Ford will study the revised offers - submitted after the bidders were given access to more data and following a series a meetings with unions and politicians - before selecting a preferred bidder.

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