Ford has hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to pursue the sale of its Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands, according to trade publication Automotive News and British newspaper the Financial Times.

As previously reported, BMW considered acquiring Volvo earlier this year in its effort to find a front-wheel-drive specialist to pair with its Mini unit for increased profitability.

According to this latest report, Italian automaker Fiat took a serious look at buying Jaguar and Land Rover, but recently decided to put talks on hold over fears an acquisition would hurt its credit rating.

The sources say Ford is still trying to sell the three companies, but the Fiat and BMW talks have mostly gone cold. The talks are reminiscent of Ford's recent sale of Aston Martin and Daimler-Benz's recent sale of Chrysler, which included numerous suitors and the guidance of investment banks.

Last year, Ford hired Kenneth Leet "" a mergers and acquisitions expert who worked at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America "" to lead a "strategic review" of the Premier Auto Group, which at the time included Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo.

Fiat sought dealer network

Fiat was particularly interested in Land Rover due to its comprehensive dealer network, according to the report. The automaker is planning to bring its Alfa Romeo brand to the Unites States, and Land Rover dealerships would be a great place to sell those vehicles, sources said. Currently, the only place Fiat could sell Alfas in America is Maserati or Ferrari dealers.

Land Rover would also give Fiat a solid entry into the SUV market, where its presence is currently nonexistent.

Renault, equity firm deny interest

Early Monday morning, Renault-Nissan denied it was a possible bidder for Jaguar and Land Rover.

"Of course we absolutely do not confirm this information," a Renault spokesman told Reuters. "(Chief Executive) Carlos Ghosn said last week that the acquisition of a luxury brand would bring nothing to Renault or the Nissan alliance, in the short term," he said.

Meanwhile, U.K. private equity firm Alchemy Partners has denied a Monday newspaper report suggesting it was readying a $5.9 billion offer to buy the two brands.

"There's nothing going on," Alchemy spokesman Richard Oldfield told just-auto. "I understand that [Alchemy managing partner] Jon Moulton said something in the past about being emotionally interested in the brands but that was all."