Ford has told potential bidders for Jaguar and Land Rover they have until 19 July to submit indicative bids for the two British car brands, people familiar with Ford's plans to sell the businesses are reported to have said.

According to the Financial Times (FT), any sale could still be some time off because Ford has not yet prepared full documentation on the two brands, whose operations are closely interlinked and which also have complex relationships with the wider Ford group.

The FT said bids are expected to come predominantly from private equity bidders, since large carmakers - many of whom are struggling with significant capacity and cost problems - are reluctant to take on fresh challenges.

The 'pink paper' noted that the deadline was originally revealed in the Sunday Times and subsequently confirmed by people familiar with the sell-off process, and added that no one would comment publicly on the process.

According to the Financial Times, funds thought to have received information from Ford's advisers on the sale include Cerberus Capital Management, which paid $US7.4bn (GBP3.67bn) last May for DaimlerChrysler's US-based Chrysler business, Ripplewood Holdings and One Equity Partners whose partners include Australian Jac Nasser, the former chief executive of Ford, during whose time the Premier Automotive Group, of which the two British brands are part, was established.

The report said Ford would prefer to sell the two brands - which share many central common management functions - together, but has made preparations to sell them separately if necessary.

The two brands together sell only 300,000 cars annually, meaning they are likely to remain dependent on Ford for engines and some other technical assistance, the Financial Times noted.