Ford-owned Land Rover has postponed the start of a global spare parts distribution deal with Caterpillar Logistics, the US-owned company at the centre of a parts crisis largely the cause of a production shutdown at MG Rover this week, the Financial Times (FT) said.

Just-auto reported on Friday that MG Rover had stopped car assembly for a week in an attempt to build up parts stocks and alleviate shortages causing frustration for the car maker's customers. The temporary production halt was intended to allow stocks destined for the production line to be diverted to spare part stocks.

The FT said that news of the delay in beginning Land Rover's contract with Caterpillar came as MG Rover's 300-plus dealers began lodging compensation claims against the car maker over parts shortages - with one group alone claiming £30,000 a month for lost profits.

The deal with Caterpillar was signed for MG Rover and Land Rover by BMW, the vehicle makers' former owner, shortly before BMW sold Land Rover to Ford and MG Rover to the Phoenix group two years ago, the FT said.

The newspaper added that Caterpillar was due to take over Land Rover's parts distribution and logistics in March but, according to Land Rover, this would now happen only when conditions were right.

In the meantime, the FT said, Britian's Unipart Group, a logistics and motor parts group spun off from Rover in 1987, would continue to distribute Land Rover parts.

Caterpillar was understood to have complained that parts shortages from component and other suppliers had hampered its start-up operations, the FT added.

The newspaper said that, until March, Unipart had enjoyed parts distribution and sale contracts with MG Rover and Land Rover that allowed the profits from parts sales to go mainly to Unipart itself.

By terminating the Unipart contracts and entering into a fee-only deal with Caterpillar, BMW had intended to keep the revenue stream for itself, the FT added.