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Ford selling Jaguar, Land Rover

Ford has asked Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC to advise on the sale, which is said to be in early stages and does not include Volvo, the third luxury brand in its Premier Automotive Group.

The loss-making car company's share price was trading 1.5 per cent higher at $US8.36 on Monday afternoon after news of the sale. Ford is understood to be selling the two brands jointly.

Jaguar and Land Rover's vehicles do not share common architecture, but the brands share purchasing and some other functions. Land Rover's Freelander 2 is made in the same facility in Halewood, England as Jaguar's X-type range.

In March Ford sold control of Aston Martin, the sports car marque, to a Kuwaiti-led consortium in a £479 million ($1.12 billion) deal that included its own retained minority stake, worth £40 million.

The company declined to comment yesterday on what it called “speculation”.

Analysts were uncertain of how much Ford may get for the brands, whose earnings it consolidates with those of Volvo and Aston Martin. Ford's premium PAG group reported a pre-tax loss last year of $US327 million ($387 million).

Land Rover, which sold a record 192,500 vehicles in 2006, is said to be profitable, but Jaguar, which is refreshing its line-up in an effort to regain market share, is losing money. “It may be `buy one, get one free',” said a person familiar with the two brands.

The sale is likely to draw interest from buyout groups following last month's $US7.4 billion sale of loss-making US car maker Chrysler to private equity group Cerberus.

Analysts said that many established car makers would baulk at taking on the two brands, whose large, powerful vehicles are costly to develop at a time of rising curbs on car emissions.

Fiat Auto and Renault yesterday denied any interest in them.

News of the sale followed months of denials by Ford that it was looking to offload the two brands. “They may be saying, `It's time to get back to what we know: volume car production,”' said Eric Wallbank of Ernst &Young in London.