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Chrysler's new owner interested in Jaguar, Land Rover?

by Nick Aziz

Cerberus Capital Management -- the company that recently agreed to buy the Chrysler Group from Daimler-Benz -- is now interested in joining the auction for Ford's luxury car brands Jaguar and Land Rover, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported today..

The newspaper said the information comes from London bank sources. The sale of the two brands would likely net Ford over $8 billion, the paper reported. Two other investor groups, Blackstone and Cinven have also shown interest.

Renault- Nissan and private equity firm Alchemy Partners denied rumors earlier this week about an interest in the brands.

A new auto giant?

If Cerberus was to acquire the two British automakers from Ford -- a completely hypothetical scenario at this point in time -- then it would own five key car brands: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Jaguar, and Land Rover.

Essentially, it would be an auto giant in its own right. Whether the brands would be treated as one large company or simply separate properties remains to be seen.

Back on the block

Ford was rumored to be considering the sale of Land Rover and Jaguar last year, but apparently decided against the move at the time. The company did, however, put Aston Martin up for sale in August 2006, and the brand was official sold earlier this year.

News that the two companies were up for sale again broke on Monday.

Two days ago, Ford confirmed to Automotive News it was considering all options regarding Jaguar and Land Rover.

"We're working with outside financial advisers to determine the best future for Jaguar and Land Rover," Ford spokesman John Gardiner said. "We're not ruling anything in or out. We're investigating options in terms of all the possible actions."

Volvo connection

These latest reports make no mention of Volvo, which Ford is also rumored to be considering selling. As previously reported, BMW considered acquiring Volvo earlier this year in its effort to find a front-wheel-drive specialist to pair with its Mini unit for increased profitability.