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DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. is selling its storied Jaguar and Land Rover businesses to India’s Tata Motors Ltd. in a deal that will net the U.S. automaker $1.7 billion — roughly a third of the price it paid for the two luxury brands.

The deal announced Wednesday will expand the Indian carmaker’s reach around the globe and give Jaguar and Land Rover badly needed capital to update and expand their product lines.

The sale had been in the works for months as cash-strapped Ford sought money to fund its turnaround plan.

Tata will pay $2.3 billion for the British brands, but Ford will pay about $600 million into the Jaguar-Land Rover pension fund when the deal closes, Tata’s statement said.

Ford bought Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.7 billion in 2000. But the Dearborn-based automaker has been struggling and wants to focus on its main brands.

Selling the companies at such a loss clearly shows buying them was a mistake for Ford, said Erich Merkle, vice president of auto industry forecasting for the consulting company IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids.

Jaguar never has made a profit under Ford, Merkle said.

“How can you call it anything else?” he asked. “You have to cut your losses at some point. It’s been draining them of cash and resources.”

The net proceeds aren’t enough to rescue Ford’s finances, but the sale will allow the company to focus on its core Ford brands, Merkle said.

Tata should have the cash to rescue the brands and develop new products to better compete with luxury automakers such as BMW AG, Merkle said.

Tata said it expects no significant changes in the terms of employment for Jaguar and Land Rover’s 16,000 workers. It said the transfer of the brands would take place at the end of the second quarter.

The sale raises the Tata conglomerate’s profile on the world stage, said V.G. Ramakrishnan, the lead auto analyst with the consulting firm Frost and Sullivan India.

“It gives them a much better branding image in the global market,” Ramakrishnan said. “This is another important landmark step of showcasing that Indian companies are arriving on the global landscape. Many people will see this deal as the future of things to come — you will see more companies out of India acquiring global companies. They want to be seen as major global players.”

In England, some workers were upbeat about the change, but others worried about the future.

“People seem to be generally happy about the buyout. Tata has a reputation as a business which is going places and has ambition to be a major market force,” said Lee Betteridge, a 34-year-old Jaguar toolmaker.

But Paul Hoyte, 35, a Land Rover worker, said, “I am pleased I have kept my job. But for how long?”

Tata Motors built the first fully Indian-designed car. In contrast to the high prices that Jaguars and Land Rovers sell for, Tata recently announced plans to build a $2,500 car later this year. Jaguars in the U.S. have sticker prices starting around $50,000 and can cost nearly twice that amount.

Roger Maddison, an official with Unite, Jaguar and Land Rover’s main labor union, said the deal is good news for the automakers’ employees as well as those who work for parts suppliers.

“Unite has secured written guarantees for all five UK plants on staffing levels, employee terms and conditions, including pensions, and sourcing agreements. The sale ensures our members futures and we look forward to working with Tata,” Maddison said in a statement.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement that the British brands are leaving Ford in good shape.

“Now, it is time for Ford to concentrate on integrating the Ford brand globally, as we implement our plan to create a strong Ford Motor Company that delivers profitable growth for all.”

Mulally has said Ford would invest the proceeds from the sale in quality and product development.

Tata said in its statement Ford will continue to supply engines, transmissions and other components “for differing periods.” Ford also will continue to provide environmental and other technologies as well as engineering support.

Tata Chairman Ratan N. Tata said his company will try to build on the brands’ heritage, keeping their identities intact. “We aim to support their growth, while holding true to our principles of allowing the management and employees to bring their experience and expertise to bear on the growth of the business,” he said in a statement.

C. Ramakrishnan, Tata’s chief financial officer, said the company had secured a 15-month, $3 billion bridge loan from a small syndicate of banks. He said Tata expects to replace that financing with a mix of equity and debt during the next several months, including “unlocking value” from some of its investments in subsidiaries.

He acknowledged Jaguar’s financial difficulties but said the brand is turning around and he expects it to be profitable within two years.

“Land Rover is a highly profitable company … and Jaguar is well on its way,” he said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Ramakrishnan said the brands’ existing management will continue.

Ford named Tata as the preferred bidder for the British automakers in January, essentially dismissing two other bids.

Cash-hungry Ford, which lost $12.6 billion in 2006 and $2.7 billion last year, has been looking to sell Jaguar and Land Rover for months.

It has mortgaged assets to continue operations and expects to burn up $12 billion to $14 billion until 2009, when it plans to return to sustained profitability.

Jaguar and Land Rover are strained by unfavorable exchange rates and high production costs in Britain.

Ford had hoped to turn Jaguar, which was founded in 1922, into a high-volume brand that could compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But its entry-level X-Type sedan, introduced in 2001 to lure younger buyers, sold poorly and was slammed for its conservative styling. Jaguar’s U.S. sales were down 24 percent last year.

Land Rover, which was founded in 1948 — the year after India gained its independence from Britain — has fared better thanks to popular products such as the Range Rover Sport and LR2. Land Rover’s U.S. sales were up 4 percent last year. But unlike Jaguar, which has improved its quality rankings under Ford, Land Rover placed last in J.D. Power and Associates’ rankings of initial quality and dependability in 2007. The rankings measure problems per vehicle after 90 days and again after three years of ownership.

Tata Motors is part of Tata Group, India’s oldest and largest conglomerate. The family business is owned mostly by Tata-funded charitable trusts. A substantial portion of the group’s income is channeled into various philanthropies that have helped build some of the country’s finest institutions, including India’s first cancer hospital.

Tata companies are known for offering worker benefits that are rare in India, including pension and child care allowances.

Some experts believe the group still is too bloated. Ratan Tata concedes he has “not been very successful” at pruning the number of companies and downsizing staff, which currently totals about 290,000.

Among Tata’s holdings are steel makers and a consulting service that does software engineering and other work for western firms.

Ford shares fell 13 cents to $5.87 Wednesday. They have traded in a 52-week range of $4.95 to $9.70.

Associated Press Writer Sam Dolnick in New Delhi and Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.

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KARRATHA, Australia (AP) — For nearly three decades, Chinese peasants have left their villages for crowded dormitories and sweaty assembly lines, churning out goods for world markets. Now, China is turning the tables.

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Robert Yu, president of Chinese car maker ZhongXing Automobile Auto, presents models in Tijuana, Mexico.

Here in the Australian Outback, Shane Padley toils in the scorching heat, 2,000 miles from his home, to build an extension to a liquefied natural gas plant that feeds China’s ravenous hunger for energy.

At night, the 34-year-old carpenter sleeps in a tin dwelling known as a “donga,” the size of a shipping container and divided into four rooms, each barely big enough for a bed. There are few other places for Padley to live in this boomtown.

Duct-taped to the wall is a snapshot of the blonde girlfriend he left behind and worries he may lose. But, he says, “I can make nearly double what I’d be making back home in the Sydney area.”

The reason: China.

For years, China’s booming economy touched daily life in the West most visibly through the “made-in-China” label on everything from clothes to computers. But now, economic growth is giving rise to something more that can’t be measured just by widgets and gadgets — a shift in China’s balance of power with the rest of the world.

China’s reach now extends from the Australian desert through the Sahara to the Amazonian jungle — and it’s those regions supplying goods for China, not just the other way around. China has stepped up its political and diplomatic presence, most notably in Africa, where it is funneling billions of dollars in aid. And it is increasingly shaping the lifestyle of people around the world, as the United States did before it, right down to the Mandarin-language courses being taught in schools from Argentina to Virginia.

China, like the United States, is also learning that global power cuts both ways. The backlash over tainted toothpaste and toxic pet food has been severe, as has the criticism over China’s support for regimes such as Sudan’s.

To understand why China’s influence is increasingly pushing past its borders, just do the math.

When 1.3 billion people want something, the world feels it. And when those people in ever increasing numbers are joining a swelling middle class eager for a richer lifestyle, the world feels it even more.If China’s growth continues, its consumer market will be the world’s second largest by 2015. The Chinese already eat 32 percent of the world’s rice, build with 47 percent of its cement and smoke one out of every three cigarettes.

China’s desire for expensive hardwood to turn into top-quality floorboards for its luxury skyscrapers has penetrated deep into the Amazon jungle. For example, in the isolated community of Novo Progresso, or New Progress in Portuguese, one of the biggest sawmills was started by the mayor with financing from Chinese investors.

China accounts for 30 percent of the wood exported from logging operations in remote towns across Brazil’s rain forest, where trucks carry the finished product hundreds of miles along muddy roads to river ports, said Luiz Carlos Tremonte, who heads an influential wood industry association. Many Chinese purchasers now travel to Brazil to clinch deals, and are almost always accompanied at business meetings by friends or relatives of Chinese descent who live there.

“Ten years ago no one knew about China in Brazil; then the demand just exploded and they’re buying a lot,” Tremonte said. “This wood is great for floors, and they love it there.”

The Bovespa stock index in Brazil has climbed more than 300 percent since 2002, riding the China wave.

China is buying coal mining equipment from Poland and drilling for oil and gas in Ethiopia and Nigeria. It has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Zambia’s copper industry. It is the world’s biggest market for mobile phones, headed for 520 million handsets this year. The list goes on.

Along with looking to other countries for goods for its people, China is also going far and wide in search of markets for its products.

In war-torn Liberia, where electricity is hard to come by, Chinese-made Tiger generators keep the local economy humming. Costlier Western brands, favored by aid agencies and diplomats, are beyond the reach of small business owners such as Mohammed Kiawu, 30, who runs a phone stall in the capital, Monrovia.

A used Tiger generator costs around $50, he said over the steady beat of his generator. “But even $250 is not enough to buy a used American or European generator. They are not meant for people like myself.”

The Chinese generators are more prone to break down, Kiawu said. When the starter cable snapped on one, he replaced it with twine. But by making items for ordinary people, he predicted, China “will take control of the heart of the common people of Africa soon.”

China is having to make up for decades of economic stagnation after the communist takeover in 1949.

When Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping began dabbling in economic reforms in 1978, farmers were scraping by. By 2005, income had increased sixfold after adjusting for inflation to $400 a year for those in the countryside and $1,275 for urban Chinese, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

“The Chinese don’t want war — the Chinese just want to trade their way to power,” said David Zweig, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “In the past, if a state wanted to expand, it had to take territory. You don’t need to grab colonies any more. You just need to have competitive goods to trade.”

If China stays on the same economic track, it would become the world’s largest economy in 2027, surpassing the United States, according to projections by Goldman, Sachs & Co., a Wall Street investment bank. And unlike Japan, which rose in the 1980s only to fade again, China still has a huge pool of workers to tap and an emerging middle class that is just starting to reach critical mass. Many development economists believe China still has 20 years of fairly high growth ahead.

But the transition to a larger presence on the global stage comes with growing pains, for China and the rest of the world.

As Beijing plays an ever bigger role in the developing world, some Western countries fear it could undermine efforts to promote democracy. In its attempt to secure markets and win allies, China is stepping up development aid to Africa and Asia. Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged last year to double Chinese aid to Africa between 2006 and 2009, promising $3 billion in loans, $2 billion in export credits and a $5 billion fund to encourage Chinese investment in Africa. China has also promised Cambodia a $600 million aid package and agreed to loan $500 million to the Philippines for a rail project.

But China also extends aid to states such as Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Sudan whose human rights records have lost them the support of the West. Actress Mia Farrow has labeled next year’s Beijing Olympics — a point of pride for China — the “genocide Olympics” because of China’s support for Sudan, at a time when the West seeks to punish it for its military actions in Darfur. China buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil output.

“In some ways, it will be integrating us into a new international order in which democracy as we’ve known it or the right to open organized political activity is no longer considered the norm,” said James Mann, author of “The China Fantasy,” a book about China and the West.

China is also facing some of the unease that powers before it have encountered. In Africa and Asia, some complain that massive China-funded infrastructure projects involve mostly Chinese workers and companies, rather than create jobs and wealth for the local population. And Moeletsi Mbeki, a political commentator and brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki, likens the trade of African resources for Chinese manufactured goods to former colonial arrangements.

“This equation is not sustainable,” Mbeki said at a recent meeting of the African Development Bank in Shanghai. “Africa needs to preserve its natural resources to use in the future for its own industrialization.”

The backlash is also coming on the consumer front, with Chinese goods earning a dubious reputation for quality. In the United States, there is a furor over the standard of Chinese imports. In Bolivia, vendors peel off or paint over any indication that their wares were “Hecho en China,” Spanish for “Made in China.”

A woman selling bicycles in El Alto, a poor city outside the capital, La Paz, insisted they were made in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or even India. With some prodding, she acknowledged the truth. “They’re all Chinese,” she said, declining to give her name lest it hurt her business. “But if I say they’re Chinese, they don’t sell.”

Even those who benefit from China’s growth express some wariness. Aerospace giant Boeing expects China to be the largest market for commercial air travel outside the United States in the next 20 years, buying more than $100 billion worth of commercial aircraft, U.S. trade envoy Karan Bhatia said in a recent speech.

“Right now, we’re hiring every week,” noted Connie Kelliher, a union leader. “Things couldn’t be better.”

Yet Boeing workers remain wary of China’s ambitions to build its own planes. next year China plans to test-fly a locally made midsize jet seating 78 to 85 passengers. It has also announced plans to roll out a 150-seat plane by 2020.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Kelliher said. “You want the business and we want to get the airplane sales to them, but there’s the real concern of giving away so much technology that they start building their own.”

That’s what happened to Western and Japanese automakers, which made inroads in the Chinese market only to see their designs copied and technologies stolen. Already, China’s vehicle manufacturers are venturing overseas, exporting 325,000 units last year — mostly low-priced trucks and buses to Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“We’re taking a bigger piece of the pie,” said Yamilet Guevara, a sales manager for Cinascar Automotriz, which has opened 20 showrooms in Venezuela in the past 18 months, offering cars from six Chinese makers. “They ask by name now. It’s no longer just the Chinese car. It’s the Tiggo, the QQ.”

China’s biggest car company, Chery Automobile Co., just announced a deal with the Chrysler Group to jointly produce and export cars to Western Europe and the United States within 2-1/2 years.

Given the speed of China’s ascent, it’s perhaps not surprising that China itself is trying to calm some of the fears. Its slogan for the Beijing Olympics: “Peacefully Rising China.”

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By Stephanie McCrummen

Washington Post Foreign Service

Easy Steps For Zambians Abroad To Invest in LuSE

NAIROBI — One ordinary afternoon in a bright, marble-floored lobby downtown here, the following conversation took place between two women, a government worker and a self-employed soapmaker.

“I bought KenGen at 9.90 shillings,” said the government worker, Josephine Nduta, referring to her stake in the initial public offering of Kenya‘s power company last year. “I sold them at 28 — I made a lot of money!”

Traders conduct transactions at computers on the floor of the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Until 2005, the exchange traded stocks using a paper system.

Traders conduct transactions at computers on the floor of the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Until 2005, the exchange traded stocks using a paper system. (By Stephanie Mccrummen — The Washington Post)

 

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“I also made money on that,” said Mary Kariuki, the soapmaker, recalling how she used the $1,000 to pay her children’s school fees. “I bought 3,300 shares.”

The two women carried on about liquidity and profit margins, and recalled with pride attending the first shareholder meeting of KenGen this year, an event so huge that it had to be held in the city’s largest soccer stadium. About 200,000 people from all corners of the country came like so many newly minted executives.

“I felt so good,” Kariuki recalled. “It was just normal, common people. People dressed well. What impressed me was the number of old women — they were coming in their traditional clothes. They were telling me, ‘Yes, we bought!’ ”

Stock market fever is sweeping Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Zambia, where stock exchanges, along with national economies, have shown steady gains in recent years as people who have traditionally invested in cows or land are learning to trust in the abstraction of corporate shares.

Perhaps nowhere has the idea caught fire more quickly than in Kenya. With investment banks conducting education campaigns in rural areas and daily newspapers thick with personal finance sections, the Nairobi Stock Exchange has transformed in recent years from a rich man’s club into a computerized, mass-appeal institution.

Since 2002, the number of investors has risen from 50,000 to more than 750,000, according to stock exchange executives, with much of that growth coming from rural areas. The exchange’s total value has jumped from $1 billion to $12 billion, amounts that are predicted to swell again following the biggest initial public offering in Kenyan history.

Cellphone giant Safaricom, expected to go public later this year, has attracted such foreign investment banks as Goldman Sachs to Nairobi for the first time, offering their services, and analysts expect that as many as 3 million individual investors in this country of nearly 36 million will participate.

“People are coming on a daily basis just to see what it’s about,” said Chris Mwebesa, 36, chief executive of the Nairobi exchange. “We’re seeing more rural folks coming to the market, working professionals, retirees, farmers, young people, even students.”

The boom has its skeptics, especially in a country with a history of entrenched corruption. And while people such as Nduta have made money on the whole — she is using some of it to electrify her house — she is also aware of the risk of losing big. Even so, the boom underscores a feature of life in Africa that often gets lost amid more prevalent images of a continent in perpetual collapse: dogged optimism.

A recent opinion poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that people surveyed in 10 African nations were on the whole optimistic about the future. In Kenya, 78 percent of those surveyed said life was getting better, even though a majority also reported that there were times in the past year they did not have enough money for food.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/25/AR2007082501291.html?sub=AR

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Last month the Seattle based Boeing Corporation rolled out their 787 Dreamliner with a tag “made out of plastic” and this time around it is the West Bengel State’s Tata Motors Limited turn to roll out their own automobile made out of the same.  

Carbon fiber composites are ruling the world. Carbon fiber or carbon fiber can refer to carbon filament thread, or to felt or woven cloth made from those carbon filaments. By extension, the term is also used informally to mean any composite material made with carbon filament, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

Carbon fibers find many uses because of their strength and light weight. Carbon fiber was invented in the early 1960s at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, Hampshire (UK). In the US, ORNL researchers are seeking ways to reduce the costs of making lightweight carbon-fiber composites for use in advanced vehicles.

To make a vehicle that gets 80 miles per gallon of gasoline to satisfy one goal of the U.S. Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), the automobile industry is seeking a lighter structural material. Steel is the material of choice today because of its strength and low cost. But steel is heavy, so the industry is starting to use lighter materials instead.

Fiberglass has long been used extensively in the Chevrolet Corvette and more recently in some body panels of the Saturn car. Audi’s A8 automobile and the hood and engine parts of the Ford F150 pickup are made of aluminum. But now Tata Motors Limited of India is taking the lead; it has announced plans to build a five-seat car that it will bring to market for less than 100,000 rupees (around $2,200).

The company is set to build a $220 million dollar factory the communist state of West Bengal to build the discount offering, with hopes of having it on the market in two years.  The new vehicle could result in up to 10,000 new jobs at the plant and the company’s suppliers.

Tata did not disclose more specifics about the vehicle’s construction, or its name. Officials were similarly mum on production projections, as well export possibilities.

The Zambian Enterprise used to be at the cutting edge at one time with Livingstone Motor Assembliers, Ronhro’s Rover Zambia in Ndola, including Tata Zambia in Lusaka; just what went wrong is the trillion dollar question … thanks a trillion

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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