Less than a year after acquiring Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, Tata Group appears close to taking over the reins of Ford's British marques - Land Rover and Jaguar, for which it is believed to have submitted a detailed offer of more than $2 billion.
The home-grown business conglomerate is understood to be leading the race for the two brands at close of second-round of bidding on Friday, media reports said.
Other bidders include private equity firms One Equity Partners, the private-equity arm of American bank J P Morgan, and Ripplewood Holdings, The Telegraph reported.
Jac Nasser, the former chief executive of Ford, is spearheading the bid of One Equity. Six contenders were involved in the race before the latest round of bidding.
The sale of the two brands is expected to complete in two months. "We are moving on and within a maximum period of two months, it will be known which ofthe groups interested, will be the new owner of the two brands," Ford Europe President John Fleming told Spanish newspaper El Mundo in October.
Allinterested parties have toured the two companies' plants and seen the new Jaguar XF, a model that will go on sale in March and is regarded as crucial to the marque's future. Jaguar and Land Rover plants in the Midlands employ about 20,000 people.
India'sTata Group runs the country's largest automobile company Tata Motors that makes heavy vehicles and passenger vehicles, including Indica which was once marketed in Europe as City Rover.
Thesale of Jaguar and Land Rover is part of a radical reshaping of Ford, which is struggling to return to profitability in the face of crippling healthcare and pension costs and competition from foreign carmakers. Earlier this year, it sold Aston Martin and it is expected to sell Volvo, the Swedish car group.