Indian vehicle manufacturer Tata has moved ahead in the race to take over Jaguar and Land Rover, after its bid was endorsed by Trade Union leaders.
Tata is vying with rival Indian vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra and private equity firm One Equity to buy Jaguar and Land Rover - which have been valued at around £720 million - from Ford.
With almost 20,000 people working for Jaguar and Land Rover in the UK, winning the support of the Trade Unions is crucial for any buyer.
Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the Unite union, said that they would prefer the companies to remain under Ford ownership, but added that if they must be sold, then Tata was the union's preferred buyer.
Woodley said that they had made their decision based on reports and submissions by the three companies, adding that they favoured Tata because of its established presence and background in manufacturing.
However, despite the backing of union officials boosting Tata's bid, Ford is still assessing the chances of all three bidders, with a decision expected by early 2008 at the latest.