Ford Motor Co. and Tata Motors expect to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover around the end of the month.
The expectation was that the memorandum would be signed in the third week of February, said Roger Maddison, national officer of Unite, the largest union in the UK auto industry. However, talks last Friday, February 8, between the unions and Ford were inconclusive, possibly pushing back the agreement a bit, he said.
Ford sources confirmed that, if an agreement is reached, it would be shortly before the Geneva auto show, whose press days start March 4.
Tata, Indias second largest carmaker, was confirmed by Ford as the leading bidder for the UK-based premium automakers in early January. Since that date, both Ford and Tata have agreed not to discuss details of the final negotiations.
The talks centered on assurances of continued components supply from Fords plants in the UK, explained Maddison.
All Jaguar and Land Rover engines come from Ford-owned plants in the UK.
We were going through the future sourcing agreements including those for engines at Bridgend and Dagenham, Maddison told Automotive News Europe.
The Ford delegation was led by Lewis Booth, head of Fords European operations. But Tata was not present as it believed the issues were for Ford and the unions to settle.
Maddison was keen to stress that there were no disagreements, and that the unions were satisfied with the arrangements for issues such as pensions and conditions.
Our worry is that the only guarantees we have been given have been in un-minuted meetings, said Maddison. We want it written down.
The Unite General Secretary, Tony Woodley, said he would not recommend acceptance of the deal unless the arrangements were tied down for at least the next few years noted Maddison.
Tata has no problem with the final salary pension scheme, and Ford will make up any shortfall before the sale, said Maddison.
Tata accepted the Jaguar Land Rover business plan through 2012, saying it was a sound plan.
Were a bit disappointed, continued Maddison. Its getting late now [if the deal is to be done next week] and there arent any dates set up in the diary. Were on standby, ready to cancel any commitments to get this settled.
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