TATA’s Winning Spree

tata1.jpgTata Sons – This name has given the Indian corporate world a synonym for decades now and contributed tremendously in enhancing the fertility of Indian corporate soil. Having 25 listed companies in its kitty, Tata Sons surely has the essence of the loyalty of the Indian investor. During the 21 Century, Tata had breached the national barriers several times only to add more venom to its sword and pride to its nation. This journey of TATAs has its origin in the visionary initiative taken by its founder, Shri Jamsetji Tata. He was more than merely an entrepreneur who helped India take her place in the league of industrialized nations. Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was an industrialist, a nationalist, a humanist and the founder of the House of Tata, whose ideals and vision shaped an exceptional business conglomerate.

Many generations of the Tatas had chosen the vacation of priesthood, but the enterprising Nusserwanji broke the mould, becoming the first member of the family to try his hand at business , thus giving birth to India’s most shining business empire. Jamsetji started a trading company with a capital of Rs 21,000 and then made his move into textiles, spinning and finally into iron and steel.

Today the Tata family is the proud owner of 98 companies in seven business sectors. These include the shining jewels – Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Tea, Tata Tele and TCS to name a few. Tata Sons can easily claim to be an MNC group, having strong presence in US, UK, Africa and Asia. Tata Sons have shown extraordinary financial and managerial expertise by acquiring some of the world’s most lucrative and established companies in the recent past.

Tata’s winning spree began with the 21 Century when, in February 2000, Tata Tea Ltd acquired UK’s Tetley for $432 million, becoming the world’s No. 2 packaged tea company. This gave a benchmark boost to Tata’s age old beverage business, making it a renowned name worldwide. In June 2005, Tata Coffee bought US based Eight O’Clock Coffee Co. for $220 million and secured a big pie in the US market. In August 2006, Tata Tea again struck the chord in US and bought 30 per cent of US enhanced water firm Energy Brands Inc for $677 million. It sold the stake less than a year later to Coca-Cola for $1.2 billion, but nevertheless, gained a lot in the process.

Tata’s another venture in the telecom biz- Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) gave great success to its entrepreneurs. In July 2005, VSNL acquired US based Teleglobe International Holdings Ltd for $239 million and completed the $130 million purchase of Tyco International’s global undersea fibre optic cable network unit. Recently, VSNL was rechristened as Tata Communications Ltd.

The steel behemoth of India, Tata Steel Ltd acquired Singapore’s NatSteel Ltd in August 2004 for $286 million. In January 2007, Tata Steel acquired Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus Group for $13 billion, which was India’s biggest overseas takeover, ever. This gave Tata Steel a perky fifth position among the world’s top steel makers.

Tata Motors has remained the sole name that has shined proudly on the bonnets of almost all Indian commercial vehicles for decades now. It made its name and fame in the luxury and super luxury vehicle business by introducing Indica and Indigo. Tata made a dash for making a layman’s dream of a super cheap car come true in the form of Nano, which is believed to be a pre-release hit. Tata Motors also followed the steps of its brothers and bought the commercial vehicle unit of South Korea’s Daewoo Group for $102 million. Ford Motor Co. has confirmed the sale of its British luxury brands, Jaguar and Land Rover to India’s top vehicle maker Tata Motors for over $2 billion. This will blink as another diamond in the crown of Tata Sons, seeming more like a starter for Tata’s appetite for global acquisition.

Saurabh Sharma

(image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorentey/6454808/)