Ford has hired business consultants KPMG to go over Land Rover and Jaguar books in preparation for the companies’ sale later this year.

The Sunday Times reported that KPMG has been given the task of separating out the companies’ accounts from Ford, which has owned Jaguar and Land Rover since 1989 and 2000 respectively.

 “They need to sort out things like the real cost of the parts that Ford supplies to the two companies. It’s the extrication of the parent company from the figures that is the difficult part of the job,” said one senior industry source, quoted by the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported that KPMG has also been asked to examine pension liabilities. At the end of last year Jaguar reportedly had a pension deficit of GBP298.2m and Land Rover GBP193.5m. Figures for 2006 are expected to be improved due to rising stock markets.

Earlier this month Ford confirmed that it had appointed investment banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC to consider the future of the two brands. The appointment of KPMG, if verified, would suggest that Ford has moved another step closer to selling Jaguar and Land Rover.