Archive : Jaguar shares soar in takeover fever

By Martin Halsall

Jaguar’s market valuation surged through the £1 billion barrier yesterday despite directors attempts to quash takeover speculation. Just days after Ford unveiled plans to buy a 15 per cent stake in Britain’s best-known independent luxury car maker, the company issued a statement underlining its determination to remain independent.

After their monthly board meeting in Coventry yesterday, directors said independence was “believed to be in the long-term interest of Jaguar said yesterday everyone associated with the company”.

Speculation that Ford is planning a full bid saw shares power past the £6 mark, although they eased off in later trading to close at 581p. Shares have risen in value by 43 per cent since Ford ‘s announcement on Tuesday. More than seven interested bidders have approached the company. BMW, Fiat, Peugeot, Audi , Nissan and Toyota are tipped as the most likely bidders. Analysts were last night talking down potential Japanese partnerships in favour of a European link.

“We don’t think there’s a car company in the world we haven’t been associated with in the last few days.”

A spokesman confirmed that Jaguar had talked to a number of car manufacturers about possible collaboration.

“During these discussions we always make it dear we believe we should remain independent, in the interest of the shareholders, customers and the workforce,” he said.

Another possibility is a conditional offer by Ford in advance of the expiry of the golden share set up under the rules of Jaguar’s privatisation nine years aeo. Jaguar confirmed yesterday that such an arrangement would require approval by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Nicholas Ridley, on behalf of the Government and a 75 per cent vote in favour at an extraordinary general meeting.

Keith Adams

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