Former Ford chief enters race for Jaguar and Land Rover

LONDON - The race to buy Ford's prestigious Jaguar and Land Rover marques has heated up with the news that former Ford president Sir Nick Scheele has teamed up with US private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings.

Ripplewood is one of half-a-dozen groups involved in due diligence for the UK motoring marques, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Scheele is not believed to have been employed by the group, but is understood to have been brought onboard in an advisory role.

Scheele, who was president and chief operating officer off Ford between 2001 and 2005 and Land Rover's chief executive and chairman between 1992 and 1999, will be up against another former Ford chief executive Jac Nasser, who is leading a bid for the brands with buy-out group One Equity. Nasser led Ford until 2001.

Ford is jettisoning the Jaguar and Land Rover brands because of their poor financial performance and looming EU and US regulation governing levels of CO2 emissions. The US automotive firm hopes to complete a sale later this year or in early 2008.

Other groups understood to be preparing bids for the brands are Cerberus Capital Management, TPG Capital and India's Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.

The sell-off of two of the great marques in British motoring follows the off-loading by Ford of another earlier this year, when it sold Aston Martin to a consortium led by Dave Richards, who heads up performance car specialists Prodrive.

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