Ford Motor Co. finalizes the long-awaited sale of its Land Rover and Jaguar Cars subsidiaries, sending the storied British marques to India’s Tata Motors Ltd. for $2.3 billion.

Speaking today at the official “handing over” ceremony at the U.K. headquarters of Jaguar and Land Rover, Ratan N. Tata, chairman of Tata Motors, says it’s a “momentous time” for the Indian auto maker.

“Jaguar and Land Rover are two iconic British brands with worldwide growth prospects,” he says in a statement. “We are looking forward to extending our full support to the Jaguar Land Rover team to realize their competitive potential. Jaguar Land Rover will retain their distinctive identities and continue to pursue their respective business plans as before.

“We recognize the significant improvement in the performance of the two brands and look forward to this trend continuing in the coming years. It is our intention to work closely to support the Jaguar Land Rover team in building the success and preeminence of the two brands.”

As his first official action as owner of Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata names David Smith the new CEO of the two brands.

Smith, formerly chief financial officer of Jaguar and Land Rover, has been acting as CEO since the April 20 death of former CEO Geoff Polites.

Smith has 25 years of experience with Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, including stints as director of finance and business strategy for the Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe.

Under conditions of the sale, Ford agrees to contribute $600 million to the Jaguar and Land Rover pension funds, while Tata assumes ownership of the two brands and perpetual royalty-free licenses of all necessary property rights, manufacturing plants, two design centers and the global-sales network.

Ford Motor Credit Co. will continue to provide financing for Jaguar Land Rover dealers and customers for a transition period.

Additionally, Ford will supply Tata with engines, stampings and technology, including a range of environmental technologies.

Other areas of transitional support from Ford include information technology services, accounting, and access to test facilities, Tata says, adding the two auto makers will cooperate in areas such as design and development through the sharing of platforms and the joint development of hybrid technologies and powertrain engineering.

The production of both Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles will continue in the U.K., the auto makers say.

Jaguar and Land Rover have been on the block since Ford revealed last June it was reviewing options for the two marques to fund its North American turnaround strategy, including pouring more resources into its core Blue Oval brand. Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 for $2.5 billion and Land Rover in 2000 for $2.7 billion.

Tata says it is in an advanced stage of negotiations with leading auto-finance providers to support the Jaguar Land Rover business in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. and is expected to select financial-services partners shortly.