Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ratan Tata’s drive into Britain


There is an interesting article over on the Statesman site about Tata's increasing interest in investment in the UK. The Indian conglomerate could now be the front-runner to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover.


Not content with an acquisitions spree that has included Corus and Tetley Tea, Mr Ratan Tata's Indian conglomerate is now front runner in the race to buy Jaguar and Land Rover. The Tatas just can't get enough of the UK. Less than a year after it completed the £ 6.7 billion takeover of Corus, formerly British Steel, India's largest private industrial group and long-time owner of Tetley Tea has set its sights on another pair of iconic British brands: Land Rover and Jaguar.
According to sources close to the situation, Tata Motors, the conglomerate's auto arm, is the front runner in the $1.5 billion auction of the car makers, which are being auctioned by their ailing American parent Ford Motor Co. Said one source involved in the auction: "They are very serious. They are definitely the favourite at this point."
If Mr Ratan Tata manages to nab the luxury marques, it would be a feather in the cap of Mr Tata, the septuagenarian chairman who has led the company since 1991 and overseen its aggressive expansion abroad. The auction can be seen from many angles. From Ford's perspective, it is an admission of failure. The Detroit giant bought the companies in the hope of mounting a serious challenge to big luxury car makers like BMW.
It will absorb a massive loss to get rid of them. (In an intriguing twist, Mr Jacques Nasser, the former Ford chief who was ousted in part due to that failed strategy, is now trying to buy them back though the buyout firm One Equity Partners). For the UK, the predicament of Land Rover and Jaguar ~ the former just breaks even or is slightly profitable, the latter loses money and can be seen as another example of the slow, intractable dwindling of British industrial groups that have failed to keep up with the demands of the globalised economy. "It's the classic British problem. They make highly recognisable cars that have very good engineering, but they are sold in tiny numbers," said Mr Hilton Holloway, associate editor of Autocar.


Read the full article here  The Statesman

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