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Ford plans to sell Jaguar

Car firm Ford has briefed politicians that it is planning to sell its British luxury car marques, Jaguar and Land Rover, the BBC has learned.

Ford, which has been cutting costs in a bid to offset declining sales, is expected to make an official announcement in the next few days. BBC business editor Robert Peston said that the company had told MPs it was still some way from doing a deal. Ford expects strong interest from private equity firms, he added.

Stiff competition
Earlier it was reported that car giant had chosen Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC to advise it on the sale of the marques. In March it sold sports car firm Aston Martin for £479 million ($924 million) to a UK-led business group. The reports that Ford had named three banks to sell Land Rover and Jaguar first surfaced in the Financial Times. In a separate report in City AM, private equity firm Alchemy Partners was said to be lining up a £3 billion offer for the two luxury brands.

The news comes as Ford undergoes a significant restructuring scheme in a bid to counter losses. The firm posted a loss of $282 million (£141 million) for the first three months of 2007, which was nonetheless less dramatic than the $1.4 billion loss recorded during the same period the year before. Stiff competition from Asian firms has caused trouble for US-based Ford - and other US firms - as buyers move away from gas-guzzling models.

Analysts have wondered for some time what Ford might do with Land Rover and Jaguar, neither of which has performed well. Both firms are part of the Premier Automotive Group (PAG), as was Aston Martin. Ford acquired Jaguar in 1989 and Land Rover in 2000. (news.bbc.co.uk)