Jaguar Land Rover Is Looking to Buy a Luxury Brand

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  • U.K. automaker explores buying upscale marques, tech firms
  • Tata Motors unit seeks to bulk up to stay competitive

Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury unit of Tata Motors Ltd., is scouting for acquisitions of international automakers amid rising competition in the industry, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The company has been holding internal discussions on buying other brands to diversify the range of vehicles it sells, the people said. It will consider purchases of luxury marques that fit with its current portfolio, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. JLR is also weighing purchases of technology companies that would boost the company’s efforts to roll out electric vehicles and autonomous driving systems, another person said.

C. Ramakrishnan

Photographer Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

A purchase would add to the $18 billion of acquisitions involving automotive manufacturers this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Tata Motors had amassed 397.6 billion rupees ($6.1 billion) of cash and equivalents at the end of June, up 87 percent from a year ago, the data show. That’s the second biggest among listed Indian companies, trailing only Reliance Industries Ltd.

Tata Motors gets about 78 percent of its revenue from the luxury brands. The company plans to use that record hoard to add new products, technology and manufacturing capacity, Tata Motors Group Chief Financial Officer C Ramakrishnan said by email earlier this month.

Senior officials at JLR’s ultimate owner Tata Group believe the carmaker needs to bulk up to stay competitive, and the Indian conglomerate is willing to provide financial support for potential acquisitions if needed, one of the people said. Any deal will be the first acquisition by JLR since Tata Motors bought the brands for about $2.4 billion in 2008, the Bloomberg-compiled data show.

Maserati, Alfa Romeo

No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said. Representatives for Tata Group and JLR declined to comment.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is considering options including a plan to spin off the Maserati and Alfa Romeo sports-car brands in order to sharpen its focus on mass-market vehicles, people familiar with the discussions said in August. Volkswagen AG has been weighing the sale of non-core assets including Italian motorcycle brand Ducati, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

In June, JLR said it was working with Lyft Inc. on autonomous-driving technology and will offer vehicles for rent to the San Francisco-based startup’s drivers. The automaker also said it had invested $25 million in Lyft as part of a funding round that closed in April, valuing the business at $7.5 billion.

Watch Next: Jaguar Land Rover CEO on Electric, Diesel Vehicles

Jaguar will begin selling its I-PACE electric-powered sport utility vehicle next year, and already has 25,000 orders for it, company Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth said this month.

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