Steel amid adversity: Tata after Mumbai

December 22, 2008

Joe Leahy reports from Mumbai in Financial Times:


Ratan Tata was at home in south Mumbai late on November 26 when the call came. On the line was a frantic R.K. Krishna Kumar, head of the Tata group unit that owns the city’s luxury Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel.

The unthinkable had happened, Mr Kumar told the Tata chairman. Terrorists had taken over the Taj, the 105-year-old wedding cake-like structure on Mumbai’s waterfront that was built by Mr Tata’s great-grandfather and is the pride of India’s largest private sector group. Scores had been killed. The building was on fire.

Unable to leave his apartment that evening because of the chaos on the streets, Mr Tata made it to the group’s stately south Mumbai headquarters, Bombay House, the following day. As the country’s politicians engaged in a blame game, Mr Tata was one of the few public figures who seemed to strike the right tone on the attacks. He bluntly criticised the state’s lack of preparedness while expressing grief for those killed.

“This is a very, very unfortunate situation which none of us are going to forget. My message really is that the government and state authorities should also not forget,” he told journalists on the steps of Bombay House.


Ratan Tata’s Obama moment

December 4, 2008

Is Ratan Tata the strong, credible leader India needs right now? He certainly has Robyn Meredith’s vote in Forbes. Who has your vote? Who do you think is most appropriate to lead the country? Send in your votes via comments.

ratan_d_tataThe Mumbai massacre was unlike previous global terror attacks because of the choice of targets. When terrorists hit Islamabad in September, they bombed the Marriott hotel, a clear attack on Western interests.

The Mumbai attackers, when they weren’t firing indiscriminately at crowds, reportedly favored killing Americans, Brits and Jews. But their choices of buildings to shoot up is notable. They didn’t target American hotels. They aimed at the very symbols of proud Indian success: the Indian-owned Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. Those are the homes away from home for India’s elite, along with visiting foreigners. Mumbai’s social and business elite and Bollywood stars alike regularly dined in the bullet-pocked restaurants of the Taj and the Oberoi.


Taj Mahal hotel owner: We had warning

November 30, 2008

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata in interview with CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria:

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

It’s ironic that we did have such a warning, and we did have some measures,” Tata said, without elaborating on the warning or when security measures were enacted. “People couldn’t park their cars in the portico, where you had to go through a metal detector.”

However, Tata said the attackers did not enter through the entrance that has a metal detector. Instead, they came in a back entrance, he said.

“They knew what they were doing, and they did not go through the front. All of our arrangements are in the front,” he said.

“They planned everything,” he said of the attackers. “I believe the first thing they did, they shot a sniffer dog and his handler. They went through the kitchen.”


Tata forced to relocate ‘people’s car’ plant

October 4, 2008

From a story headlined “Bullet into Bengal’s soul” in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Ratan Tata with 'people's car' Nano

Ratan Tata with Nano

Bengal’s symbol of industrial resurgence, the Nano, died a violent death today, the trigger pulled by Mamata Banerjee, Ratan Tata said.

After a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Tata said: “Two years ago, I said if somebody puts a gun to my head, you would either have to remove the gun or pull the trigger. I would not move my head. I think Ms Banerjee pulled the trigger.” More:

Also in The Telegraph transcript of Ratan Tata‘s media conference:”This is a decision we have taken with a great deal of sadness…” Click here for more

Indians count cost of pyrrhic victory over Tata

Amy Kazmin in Financial Times:

Rising from the lush green paddy fields 40 kilometres from India’s decrepit former colonial capital Calcutta, Tata Motors’ flagship Nano car factory was expected to bring jobs and prosperity to a region little touched so far by the forces of globalisation now transforming other parts of India.

Instead, the high-profile plant in Singur – where Tata planned to produce the world’s cheapest car for India and for export – foundered on resistance of farmers such as 55-year-old Prabhat Shi, who saw little role for himself in the industrial sector, and preferred to cling to time-tested ways of living.


Previously in AW: Time to say tata & bye bye?

Time to say tata & bye bye?

August 23, 2008

Hours after Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s Tata conglomerate, threatened to pull out of his Rs one-lakh ($2,500) Nano car project from Singur, West Bengal, other state governments — most notably MaharashtraOrissa and Punjab — have rushed forward with invitations to Tata’s boss to set up the project in their state instead.

In West Bengal, however, Mamata Banerjee, leader of the state opposition party Trinamool Congress, stands firm and insists that 400 acres of land acquired from farmers by the Tatas be returned to them. But, here’s the twist to the tale, the farmers of Singur don’t want the Tatas to leave, reports The Indian Express

In a twist of the tale, a day after Ratan Tata threatened to pull out of the ‘Nano’ project in Singur, farmers whose land have been acquired do not want the Tata Motors Limited Chairman to leave as they believe industrialisation would improve their lot.

Marginal land owner Debaprasad Das whose 0.75 acres was taken for the project, but who had not taken his cheque as he had supported the agitation against land acquisition, said he wanted industrialisation.


Tata’s new ratan

June 2, 2008

Ford completes the £1.7 billion deal to sell British icons Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata. BBC News has that story.

Ford has completed the sale of its Jaguar and Land Rover businesses to Indian conglomerate Tata in a deal valued at £1.7bn.

The companies are being sold for £1.15bn with Ford paying £600m into the pension fund of the luxury brands.

The negotiations started last June and the deal was announced in March.

Ford is selling the firms to try and boost overall performance. Land Rover remains profitable but Ford has never made money from its Jaguar investment.


And for a story on India Inc’s global acquisition spree, read this story in The Economic Times here.

Tea, cars, steel, IT… Tata, the headiest brew in the world

May 4, 2008

India’s extraordinary conglomerate has found unique solutions to many of its problems. But it’s still unclear what will happen when the boss retires. Heather Connon reports from Mumbai in The Observor, UK:

The favourite boast of executives of the Tata Group is that it accompanies the average Indian throughout the day. They wake to the alarm of its Titan clocks, drink its tea or coffee for breakfast, wear clothes bought from its Westside shopping centres, take a Tata car or bus to work on a computer set up by Tata Consultancy Services, lunch in a Tata hotel, arrange their evening appointments on a Tata mobile phone and use Tata power to light their homes.

These days, the influence of the Indian conglomerate is spreading beyond its home country. Back in 2000, it made the first major acquisition by an Indian group when it acquired the Tetley tea company; last year, that was trumped when it bought steelmaker Corus for £6.2bn, while in March it was confirmed as the purchaser of British icons Jaguar and Land-Rover from Ford. Next month, it will make its first foray into UK financial services when New Star launches an Indian investment fund that will be managed by Tata Asset Management.



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