Ratan Tata's Legacy, Cyrus Mistry's Challenge
New Delhi: As Ratan Tata steps down as chairman of India's largest industrial house, he leaves behind for his successor at Bombay House, Cyrus Mistry, not just a $100-billion empire he helped grow 13-fold in the 21 years at its helm but also a legacy that earned him wide praise as an able corporate leader with values.
Tata joined Tata Group as an apprentice on the shop floor of Tata Steel's Jamshedpur plant in 1962. He took over the top job in 1991, succeeding uncle JRD Tata, at a crucial time when India began its market liberalisation programme and his peers at the "Bombay Group" argued against it and sought a level-playing field for their businesses.
In the more than two decades at the helm, the Cornell-educated Tata not only consolidated the group's business in domestic markets but also expanded it globally, acquiring assets, diversifying businesses and forging new linkages.
In recent years, he conceived and presented to the world the smallest car "Nano". Much before that, in 2008, the Government of India honoured him with its second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan.
"Ratan has built very adroitly on the grand foundations built by his predecessors, especially JRD. He has not only nurtured the Tata DNA but reshaped it for the new age," Says Bajaj Group chairman Rahul Bajaj.
"The very fact that he is retiring at 75 speaks volumes of his commitment to managing the Tata companies through values," Bajaj added.
Tata Group's market capitalisation, which has some 30-odd listed companies, is now nearly 4.54 trillion ($825 billion), 33 times more than in 1991 when Tata took over the top job. During this period, the group's aggregate sales have increased 43 times, while net profit has grown 51 times.
Tata Group's global expansion started in 2000 with the acquisition of Britain's largest tea firm, Tetley, by Tata Tea, now called Tata Global Beverages.
Since then Tata Group has made several big-ticket global acquisitions, including the purchase of Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus Group. Tata Steel also acquired Europe's second largest steel maker Corus in 2007 for $12 billion. The company is now called Tata Steel Europe.
Another big acquisition was of iconic British auto makers Jaguar and Land Rover by Tata Motors.
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