JCB chairman Bamford mulls making Ford an offer for Jaguar

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The Independent Online

The British construction machinery group JCB revealed that it was interested in bidding for the premium car maker Jaguar yesterday, after its US owner, Ford, said it was mulling a sale of the business.

In a short statement yesterday afternoon, JCB's chairman, Sir Anthony Bamford, confirmed that he was interested in the car company, but refused to reveal any details as to how a deal may be structured, or what the group would be willing to pay.

"I have expressed an interest in the purchase of Jaguar because I believe it is a very strong brand with great potential which at this moment I believe is not being realised," he said. "At this time I have nothing further to add."

It is believed that Sir Anthony will consider buying Jaguar only if Ford agrees to sell the business without its subsidiary, Land Rover.

Ford bought Jaguar for £1.6bn in 1989, but went on to to sustain heavy losses from the business. Last year, it was forced to pump a further £1.2bn into the company to keep it afloat, while two weeks ago it conceded that it was now considering its options for the future of the business.

The US motor company has hired the Wall Street investment banker Kenneth Leet to advise it on a possible sale of Jaguar, as well as the potential disposal of its profitable car finance division, Ford Credit. It is thought that he will recommend a sale of some or all of the four brands held within Ford's Premium Automotive Group - Aston Martin, Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar.

Land Rover and Jaguar are both manufactured in Merseyside, and share a distribution network, but Sir Anthony is understood to believe that Ford could still raise more money by splitting the two brands.

News of JCB's interest in the business comes three days after it set a land-speed record for diesel cars, of 350mph, on the Bonneville salt flats in the US. Although JCB has long made engine-powered agricultural and construction machinery, the US project was its first outing into the world of motoring.