City Republic: new owner on the cards for Jaguar
LONDON - Indian industrial conglomerate Tata and One Equity, a US private equity firm, are the front runners to buy Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, with another Indian firm, Mahindra & Mahindra, the outsider of three.
One Equity, whose bid is led by former Ford CEO Jacques Nasser, is the favourite, at least with US dealers who doubt that Jaguar's upscale cars fit well with Tata, which makes cheap cars for India.
Both outfits are expected to bid between $1.8-$2bn (£880m-£978m), cheap for two of the car world's most famous brands.
But Jaguar has rarely made money since Ford made it the cornerstone of its Premier Automotive Group and Land Rover's pricey 4x4s will find the going harder as both the US and UK head towards recession.
Jaguar's hopes rest on the forthcoming XF saloon, a BMW rival that breaks with its habit of producing retro designs like its predecessor the S-Type (someone at PAG obviously released at the last minute that XS would be a rather unfortunate name).
Memo to new owner, there must be a better way of branding these machines than X this and that.
Ford, which is being revived by former Boeing boss Alan Mulally, should make a decision in the next two days.
Wall Street rages at Bernanke
Wall Street threw a hissy fit yesterday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke shaved a quarter point off interest rates, taking them down to 4.25%.
The markets had been hoping for a half-point cut and the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all dropped by over 2%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 2% this morning in sympathy and the Tokyo Nikkei was down too.
London's FTSE 100 opened this morning 80 points down, with the French and German following suit.
This is all a touch harsh and Bernanke hasn't ruled out further cuts but he looks unlikely to go as far as his predecessor Alan Greenspan who took rates briefly down to one per cent at the turn of the century in the wake of the dotcom crash.
Big Ben obviously decided he wasn't going to be pushed around by a bunch of bankers who'd lost their shareholders' money on foolish sub-prime mortgage products.
He'll still cut further, though, as the US heads towards recession.
Tesco to buy Czech chain
Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy is brandishing his cheque book again (no pun intended), snapping up discount chain Plus from German retailer Tengelmann.
This will make Tesco the biggest grocer in the Czech Republic, adding 144 stores to the 93 it has currently.
Of all the global grocery giants Tesco is arguably the best at expanding overseas, with strong businesses in Central Europe and the Far East plus, of course, its Fresh & Easy chain on the US West Coast.
What makes Tesco different?
Determination is probably the answer. The company came unstuck when it tried to expand in France but, rather than retreating to lick its wounds, pressed on into developing markets.
Where next for Tesco?
Absolut invites $5bn bids
The Swedish government is auctioning Vin & Spirit, the maker of Absolut vodka, and one of the big drinks firms is expected to cough up $5bn plus for the premium vodka brand.
The auction will see the UK's Diageo up against fellow giants Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and the US Fortune Brands, which distributes Absolut in the US.
Fortune has already sold its Constellation Wines business for $885m as it assembles its war chest.
Pernod and Bacardi are each involved with premium vodka brands in Stolichnaya (which Pernod distributes) and Grey Goose, whereas Diageo has the more downmarket Smirnoff.
Pernod has said it wants to either own Stolly outright or buy Absolut.
A deal should be announced early next year.
Stephen Foster is a former news editor of Campaign, former editor of Marketing Week and Evening Standard ad columnist. He is a partner in Editorial Partnership and writes the blog www.editco.net and Politics of the Media for Brand Republic.
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