The Ford Motor Company snapped up millions of shares in the British luxury car maker Jaguar as stock prices tumbled worldwide, the company disclosed today.
Ford, which is vying for Jaguar with its biggest rival, the General Motors Corporation, said it had doubled its shareholding, to 10.4 percent.
Ford said it had bought or agreed to buy 19.04 million Jaguar shares by the end of trading Monday, when prices slumped by the biggest margin since the crash of October 1987.
Stephen Reitman, motor analyst for the London brokerage UBS Phillips & Drew, said Ford had been buying heavily in New York on Friday, when stocks began sinking, and in London on Monday before markets began to recover.
Ford, the world’s No. 2 car maker, has said it intends to increase its stake in Jaguar to 15 percent, the maximum allowed by Britain’s Conservative Government when it sold shares in the former state-run company in 1984. That special ”golden share” blocking rule runs out in 1990.
Jaguar, its elite image built on exclusivity, high-powered engines and sporting lines, has spurned Ford’s advances, saying it needs a cash injection but wants to stay independent.
General Motors said last week that it was talking with Jaguar about the possibility of joint ventures and of taking a minority stake in the British concern.
”I expect a deal with General Motors to be announced soon and Ford has decided it must have a strong shareholder’s voice,” Mr. Reitman said. ”Ford is desperately keen to get Jaguar.”
Jaguar has been forced to look for support since it was hit by a severe slump in the United States market, the biggest for luxury cars. Its profits for the first half of 1989 slipped to $:1.4 million ($2.2 million), from $:22.5 million ($35.3 million) in the corresponding period last year.