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Old 08-23-2006, 20:51   #1 (permalink)
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US:JCB Chairman Expresses Interest in Buying Jaguar

Rumblings: JCB Chairman Expresses Interest in Buying Jaguar

Inside Line

BONNEVILLE, Utah — Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of the British earth-moving specialists JCB, has expressed an interest an interest in buying Jaguar.

In an exclusive interview after his company set a new diesel land speed record, Bamford told Inside Line, "If Ford can separate Jaguar from Land Rover, I'd like to buy it."

Commentators had been suggesting that Ford would only be able to sell loss-making Jaguar if it packaged it together with profitable Land Rover, but Bamford is only interested in the troubled luxury carmaker.

"If they sold Jaguar to me Ford could then make a lot of money by selling Land Rover," he said. "Selling the two together won't make much because Jaguar is regarded in the world as a dog."

Bamford's pitch may seem bombastic, yet is quite credible. JCB is a highly profitable family-owned manufacturer of heavy-duty vehicles. Earnings for 2005 came in at £110 million, or $208 million U.S., in 2005 — that makes 45,000 vehicles each year. Jaguar, meanwhile, sold around 85,000 that year.

Bamford is confident he has the necessary management skills to take Jaguar forward. He claims that "Jaguar has lost its way," and there has been "too much chopping and changing at the top. There's a real mishmash of responsibilities between Jaguar and Land Rover and they need leadership.

"[Jaguar founder] Sir William Lyons was a friend of my father's and he was involved in most aspects of the plant. JCB is run in a similar way. Although we are not in the car business, we are familiar with every aspect of lean manufacturing and worldwide marketing," he said. "All our senior management are involved in every aspect of the business. There isn't an enormous structure and bureaucracy."

Bamford could also hold an ace in the form of Matthew Taylor, who recently left his role as managing director of Land Rover to join JCB. Taylor is well-respected and knows the Jaguar/Land Rover business inside out. This knowledge could prove invaluable in a buyout.

"Jaguar needs downsizing. The little car [X-Type] needs to go. The S-Type is critical and the XJ is a very good car but it needs a reskin," Bamford said. He also criticized Ford's decision to cancel plans for a Porsche Boxster-rivaling F-type roadster and suggested that Jaguar should return to the racetrack.

"Racing is Jaguar's background. It helps sell cars and it gives the company a youthful image," he said. "Twenty years ago a Jaguar was an aspirational choice."

Bamford was speaking at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where yesterday the JCB Dieselmax streamliner successfully raised the land speed record for a diesel-engined car to 350 mph.

What this means to you: Jaguar's sale could ease Ford's woes.
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