The chairman of India’s Tata Group has confirmed his company’s interest in acquiring the Jaguar and Land Rover units of Ford.
“We certainly have an interest in that,” Chairman Ratan Tata told the CNN-IBN television channel in an interview, excerpts of which were broadcast Friday.
The company had previously refused to comment on speculation in the Indian media about a possible Tata bid for the Ford assets.
Tata said the interest in Jaguar and Land Rover was driven by a desire to expand Tata Motors’ worldwide reach and reduce its dependence on the Indian market, which currently accounts for more than 90% of its sales.
“It is to give ourselves scale, to give ourselves global reach,” Tata said, declining to comment further.
The Tata Group, with interests ranging from automobiles to steel and software, is the most aggressive among Indian companies seeking overseas acquisitions to gain global visibility after thriving for decades in a protected home market.
Earlier this year, Tata Steel won a £6 billion bid to acquire Britain-based Corus Steel, an acquisition that would make the Indian company the world’s fifth largest steel maker.
Through acquisitions, Indian companies hope to penetrate new markets, acquire technologies and gain access to raw materials needed for industrialisation back home.
Cash-strapped Ford, which lost more than £6 billion in 2006, has been looking to sell its Jaguar and Land Rover units.
The company has taken opening bids and Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said in late July that the probability of selling the brands is greater than 50%.
In its bid for Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata would be pitted against two former Ford executives who have reportedly tied up private equity firms to make separate bids for the same assets.
Sir Nick Scheele, who served as Ford’s president between 2001 and 2005, has reportedly joined New York-based Ripplewood Holdings LLC to bid for the luxury brands.
The other bid has reportedly come from Jacques Nasser, who was Ford’s chief executive from 1999 to 2001 and has tied up with One Equity Partners LLC, which manages private equity investments for JPMorgan Chase & Co.