Jaguar and Land Rover, two iconic auto brands in the UK, are set to see a change of ownership in the new year, with their current American parent Ford Motor looking to finalise a winner by the end of 2007 or early 2008.
The bids from leading Indian conglomerates and the front-runners for the deal, Tatas and Mahindras, are worth over $ 2.05 billion and $ 1.9 billion respectively, sources close to the development said.
While no official confirmation could be obtained, another suitor, a private equity firm led by former Ford CEO Jacques Nasser - OneEquity - is still in the reckoning, but Ford is understood to be preferring a buyer directly involved in the auto manufacturing business.
According to the sources, Ford is looking to finalise the name of the buyer by the end of 2007 or early next year.
Meanwhile, US daily The New York Times on Tuesday reported that Jaguar and Land Rover are poised to join Tata Motors and a decision could be made in the "next few days".
However, the report added that "a final deal, which is expected to be worth about two billion dollars, will not be announced until early next year".
The report noted that Jaguar dealers in the US have expressed concern over an Indian buyer, saying it could adversely impact the value of the luxury brand, as Tata Motors is currently in process of launching its "People's Car" with a price tag of about $ 2,500, which is about one-twentieth of the cost for least expensive Jaguar model.
"The combination of luxurious, specialised products and cheap, commodified ones may seem like an unlikely business model, but the Tata Group, the family-run conglomerate that owns one-third of Tata Motors, is full of similar contradictions," The New York Times said.