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Chronology of Tata Group

India's global giant

Associated Press
Ratan Tata, who took over in 1991, spent years cleaning up after power struggles during his uncle’s tenure, jettisoning executives and businesses.

Associated Press Ratan Tata, who took over in 1991, spent years cleaning up after power struggles during his uncle’s tenure, jettisoning executives and businesses.


A dozen years ago, many thought India's Tata Group, the country's oldest and largest conglomerate, was a bloated behemoth that would go under.

Instead, it has become a powerhouse, focusing on core businesses like steel and automobiles and seizing opportunities, including the hugely profitable outsourcing business, that came with India's economic transformation.

A slew of recent acquisitions, including for Britain's Tetley Tea and Boston's Ritz Carlton Hotel, have thrust the Tata conglomerate, which comprises 98 companies and was largely unknown outside India, into the global spotlight.

"We have been thinking bigger than we have done in the past," chairman Ratan Tata, 70, said in a rare interview at Bombay House, headquarters since 1926. "We have been bolder … and we have been more aggressive in the marketplace."

In five years through March 2007, annual group sales more than doubled to $29-billion, while market capitalization of its 27 listed companies increased six-fold, to $78-billion. The numbers do not include Corus, whose sales totaled $19-billion in 2006.

While recent rapid earnings growth at Tata Steel and Tata Motors has slowed, net profit at Tata Consultancy, India's biggest outsourcing company, climbed 21 percent in the October-December quarter.

The resurgence of the 140-year-old Tata brand is as much a story of the country's economic rise as it is about the success of the chairman, whose ascent to the top job in 1991 coincided with the beginning of India's shift from a socialist-style state to a market economy.

When Ratan took over from his gregarious uncle, J.R.D. Tata, India's economy was starting to open, but the Tata group was almost falling apart. Sales were sluggish and government controls had limited new investments.

Unlike his uncle, Ratan took charge from the start. At Tata Steel, tens of thousands of jobs were cut. Tata Consultancy Services meanwhile hired thousands to become a global power in outsourcing, doing back office work and software engineering for Western firms.

Just as the group's fortunes were reviving the Indian economy hit a slump That's when it became compelling for Tata to look overseas.

The big change came five years ago at a company annual meeting, where the chairman "exhorted us to go treat the world as the market," recalls R. Gopalakrishnan, an executive director at Tata Sons, the group's holding company.

What followed was a huge push to acquire businesses abroad. Nearly 30 overseas buyouts have since helped the group's international revenues grow fourfold to $11-billion and contributed more than a third to its sales last year.

1868: Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, son of a Parsi priest, starts a private trading firm, laying the foundation of the group.

1874: First textile plant in central India established.

1902: Opening of India's first luxury hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in Mumbai.

1907: Tata Iron and Steel Co., later renamed Tata Steel, founded. Production starts in 1912.

1932: Sets up Tata Airlines, present-day Air India, which was later transferred to government control.

1939: Tata Chemicals founded.

1945: Tata Electric and Locomotive Co., now Tata Motors, established.

1954: Enters consumer electronics, sets up Voltas, a maker of air conditioners and refrigerators.

1968: Tata Consultancy Services, what has now become India's top outsourcing company, incorporated.

1996: IPO of Tata Teleservices to cash in on the fast growing telecom sector.

1998: Tata Motors rolls out the first fully Indian car, the Indica.

2000: Buys Britain's Tetley Tea for

270-million pounds.

2004: Acquires truck unit of South Korea's Daewoo Motors.

2005: Takes over undersea cable network of U.S.-based Tyco International, Singapore's Natsteel, Thai company Millennium Steel, New York's Pierre hotel, Britain's Brunner Mond Group

2006: Buys Eight O'Clock coffee in the United States.

2007: Tata Steel wins bidding war for British steelmaker Corus; snaps up mining right across Asia and Africa.

2008: Ford Motor Co. picks Tata Motors as preferred bidder for Jaguar and Land Rover businesses; Tata Motors unveils the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, costing $2,500.

Associated Press

India's global giant 02/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:55am]
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