India Watch : Search underway for Ratan Tata’s successor

MUMBAI (Reuters) — India’s Tata conglomerate is looking around the world for a successor to Ratan Tata, the 71-year-old Chairman of the sprawling salt-to-automaker group said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday.

Local and foreign candidates were being looked at to head the group, which includes Tata Motors Ltd., Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Power among its 27 listed companies.

“We are in the process of formalizing a successor to me. We have some outside consultants and a formal search process is on. There are no constraints,” Tata, who has steered the group for nearly two decades, said in the interview.

It would certainly be easier if that candidate were an Indian national. But now that 65 percent of our revenues come from overseas, it could also be an expatriate sitting in that position with justification now,” Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons Limited

The successor could be from within the group or outside, Tata said, adding he hoped the person would carry on the growth path that had been set. All but one of the group’s past Chairmen have been Tatas, although at the moment no family candidate has been publicly identified to take over the role.

“It would certainly be easier if that candidate were an Indian national. But now that 65 percent of our revenues come from overseas, it could also be an expatriate sitting in that position with justification now,” Tata said.

Tata Group’s 98 operating companies have annual revenues of $71 billion and 357,000 employees, its Web site shows. The group, founded in 1868, runs India’s top vehicle maker, top software services firm, top private sector power producer and the world’s eighth-largest steel maker by output.

Tata Motors was able to extinguish its borrowing of $3 billion through this difficult period, and most people don’t realize the magnitude of that task.” Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons Limited

Ratan Tata has led the group’s international expansion. In 2007, Tata Steel paid $13 billion to buy Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, and Tata Motors paid $2.3 billion to acquire Jaguar Land Rover in 2008.

He said the group is still digesting those acquisitions, which have been made harder due to the global financial crisis and economic downturn. The downturn pushed Tata to ask his group companies to undertake a major cost-cutting drive.

“Tata Motors was able to extinguish its borrowing of $3 billion through this difficult period, and most people don’t realize the magnitude of that task,” he said. 

[Source: Automotive News Europe/Reuters]

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

Have your say...