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Saturday December 29, 2012

Change of guard at Indian conglomerate Tata Group


Mistry (right) takes over as head of Tata from Ratan Tata, who has been credited with transforming the group into a streamlined conglomerate of more than 100 companies and earning a global reputation for eye-catching acquisitions of Western firms. — AFP Mistry (right) takes over as head of Tata from Ratan Tata, who has been credited with transforming the group into a streamlined conglomerate of more than 100 companies and earning a global reputation for eye-catching acquisitions of Western firms. — AFP

MUMBAI: The head of India's Tata Group, Ratan Tata, quietly handed over the reins of the business empire on his 75th birthday as he basked in the plaudits for turning the organisation into a global power.

Ratan Tata, who steered the group for 21 years as chairman, has been credited with transforming it into a streamlined conglomerate of more than 100 companies and earning a global reputation for eye-catching acquisitions of Western firms.

There was no event scheduled to mark the transition, which will see Cyrus Mistry a relative through marriage of Ratan Tata become the new supremo.

From luxury cars to steel, Tata is India's largest group with total combined sales of US$100bil in 201112, nearly 60% of which came from business outside India, mainly the United States and Britain.

During Ratan Tata's time at the helm, the organisation went on a global purchasing spree, acquiring major names ranging from Tetley Tea to Land Rover and the Anglo-Dutch steel firm Corus in 2007 for US$13.7bil.

In addition, Tata Motors is India's top vehicle maker while Tata Consultancy Services is its largest software outsourcer.

The group's progress over the past two decades has coincided with the rapid economic development of India, which observers say Ratan Tata played a major role in.

“The Tata group has been the spearhead of India's integration with the world economy,” said an editorial in The Hindustan Times yesterday.

“The Tatas are ahead of the pack in aligning corporate governance with international practices, and this serves as a springboard for a new a generation of the the global Indian manager,” it said.

Pradip Shah, chairman of IndAsia Fund Advisors, said: “(Ratan) Tata led the group with vision, drive, tenacity and skill.”

He added that Mistry's challenge would be “inheriting people and building teams”.

Tata Steel is the world's seventh largest steel producer but it is now having problems with downbeat business conditions in Europe. The group's telecoms, power, hotels and finance arms also face difficulties.

The business daily Mint described the troubles facing the steel and telecoms divisions as “pockets of trouble that will need the immediate attention of Mistry”. - AFP

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