India’s Ratan

Dec 28 2012, 12:05 IST
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The Economist wrote recently, ‘by standing out against graft so publicly and consistently, Mr Tata was ahead of his time’.  (Reuters) The Economist wrote recently, ‘by standing out against graft so publicly and consistently, Mr Tata was ahead of his time’. (Reuters)
SummaryRatan Naval Tata steps down as chairman of Tata Sons today.

hugely leveraged, an attempt at making the group global.

No doubt the Tatas has the financial muscle to foray into new spaces but there was also the appetite for risk; some of the global buys may not have been well-timed, a fact that Tata has graciously conceded. But there’s no doubt many of the buys – the hotels for example – hold out promise. The spectacular turnaround at the loss-making Jaguar and Land Rover bought for $2.3 billion in March 2008 – critics carped that the Tatas would never be able to sell luxury brands in unfamiliar markets – in less than three years was proof of the group’s technological and marketing skills.

But it’s a fact that TCS accounts for a tenth of the group’s turnover, a higher third of the profits and half of the market capitalisation. However, sceptics who believed the Tatas would never do well in the consumer space have been stumped by the success of a Titan or even a Westside. The biggest asset that Tata will leave for Cyrus Mistry, of course, is a capable cadre of CEOs. But without its ‘ratan’ the Tata Group can never be the same.

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