Ford is in talks to sell some of its luxury brands to an investment group led by former chief executive officer Jacques Nasser, four people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg News.

The talks reportedly focus on Jaguar and Land Rover, one of the people, who didn't want to be identified because the negotiations are private, told the business news agency. The discussions are with JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s One Equity Partners, where Nasser is senior partner for mergers and acquisition, the people said, according to the report on Bloomberg's website.

Bloomberg News noted that Nasser, fired by Ford five years ago, created the company's Premier Automotive Group, including Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. As late as 2004, Ford was counting on the group to generate one-third of its automotive profit by 2006 but now says Premier will lose money this year.

"The people at Ford are feeling highly vulnerable right now, and when you feel vulnerable, you put everything on the table,'' David Cole, chairman of the Centre for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told Bloomberg News.

The news agency noted that Ford on Friday announced the resignation of board member Robert Rubin, chairman of Citigroup Inc. and a Ford director for six years, who cited potential conflicts of interests because Ford is considering the sale of assets and Citigroup has a "multi-faceted relationship'' with Ford.

Jamie Rubin, Robert Rubin's son, is a One Equity partner, Bloomberg News said, adding that a Ford spokesman wouldn't comment beyond Rubin's resignation letter.

The talks with Nasser, which could result in a joint venture rather than an outright acquisition, don't involve Volvo, one of the people told Bloomberg News. The people wouldn't say whether the discussions have advanced beyond a preliminary stage.

The conversations are cordial, partly because Nasser, 58, has been on good terms with his successor as CEO, Bill Ford, 49, one person reportedly said.

Bloomberg News recalled that Nasser [a onetime head of Ford's Australian unit] was the automaker's CEO from 1999 to 2001, leading the acquisition of Volvo's car unit for $US6.5bn in 1999 and BMW's Land Rover unit for $2.7bn in 2000. Nasser's clout faded during a controversy over Firestone tyres.

The news agency said Nasser in 2002 led One Equity Partners' $238m acquisition of bankrupt Polaroid, the pioneer of instant photography, and sold it on to Petters Group Worldwide, which owns on-line auctioneer, for about $US426m last year.

Citing people familiar with the situation, Bloomberg said the Ford family also has considered taking the car maker private but, for now, the family views ending 50 years of public ownership as a last resort, one of the people said.

According to one of the sources, the Fords' preferred move would be a partnership bringing Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan and Renault, into a leadership position in the company, Bloomberg News said.