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British minister considering bailout of Jaguar

LONDON, December 18 – British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said Wednesday the government had held talks with Jaguar Land Rover about a possible bailout, but stressed that no decisions had yet been reached.

He told Sky News television that he was talking to all car manufacturers in Britain but Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which is owned by Indian group Tata Motors, was in the spotlight because it was under "particular strain".

"We are looking at the sector as a whole. I have had discussions with the owners and management of Jaguar Land Rover in particular, because they argue that they are under particular strain," Mandelson told the broadcaster.

"But they have owners who are well-resourced, who have the first responsibility for sustaining the companies that they own in existence and in production for the future.

"If we judge that it is not just short-term difficulties but longer-term pressures that are operating in that sector, or in relation to that particular company, then we will consider what measure, what intervention we can appropriately make.

"But the time for that decision has not been reached."

The Sunday Times newspaper reported late last month that JLR, which employs about 15,000 workers in Britain, was in talks regarding a government loan of one billion pounds (1.19 billion euros, 1.49 billion dollars).

Like the US auto sector, the British car industry is suffering at the hands of the global economic slowdown.

Responding to the Times report, JLR said the industry was facing "unprecedented trading conditions" and was keeping the government informed of the impact this was having on its business.

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Tata Motors completed its 2.3-billion-dollar acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover from ailing US carmaker Ford in June.

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