To say that Ratan Tata leaves behind a huge legacy would be a gross understatement. Ever since he took overas Chairman of the Tata Group in 1991, he worked in on converting the “the corporate commonwealth” of various companies in the fold into a single cohesive entity.
He has spearheaded the acquisition of overseas companies such as Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover and Corus, and has effectively transformed the group from an India-centric business conglomerate to a Rs 4,75,000 crore-plus (Rs 4.75 trillion) multinational business enterprise that draws about 60 per cent of its revenues from abroad.
With Ratan Tata set to step down on December 28, 2012, as chairman of the group, we take you on a journey of the man’s achievements, triumphs and trials.
Ratan Tata was born on December 28, 1937, in then-Bombay to Naval and Sooni. He began his schooling in Mumbai at Campion School, Bishop Cotton School in Shimla and finished at Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai.
He completed BS in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in the United States in 1962.
Tata did Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975. He is a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.
He began his career at the Tata empire in 1962; he initially worked on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnace. This he did after refusing a job with IBM back in New York.
Tata was appointed the Director of National Radio and Electronics (Nelco), which was in dire straits when he came on board: with losses of 40 per cent and barely two per cent share of the consumer electronics market.
He was asked to turn around the sick Empress Mills, which he did. However, he was refused a Rs 50 lakh investment required to make the textile unit competitive. Empress Mills floundered and was finally closed in 1986.
JRD Tata stepped down as Tata Industries chairman, naming Ratan as his successor. He was heavily criticised for lacking experience in running a company of the scale of Tata Industries.
Becomes Chairman of Tata Motors.
Tata was appointed group chairman of the Tata group. As group chairman, he has been responsible for converting “the corporate commonwealth” of different Tata-affiliated companies into a cohesive company.
Retirement age fixed for group’s senior executives.
Russi Mody, long-time chairman and MD of Tata Steel, sacked.
Sells Tata Oil Mills (Tomco) to Hindustan Unilever.
Signs JV with Diamler Benz to launch Mercedes cars in India.
Tata Chemicals commissions urea plant, enter fertiliser business.
Tata Motors launches Tata Sumo.
Darbari Seth, long-time chairman or Tata Chemicals and Tata Tea (Now Tata Global Beverages) retires.
Lakme and Hindustan Unilever forms 50:50 JV Lakme Lever.
Tata Teleservices is set-up for group foray into telecom services.
Lakme brand and assets acquired by Hindustan Unilever.
Ajit Kerkar, long-time chairman of Indian Hotels, forced out.
Ratan Tata becomes chairman of all key Group companies.
Tata Indica, India’s first indigenously-developed passenger car, launched.
A unified group logo launched and all group companies asked to pay royalty for using Tata name. Legal ownership of Tata name vested with Tata Sons.
Tatas acquires UK-based retailer and merges it with erstwhile Lakme and renames it Trent Ltd. Launches Westside, India first chain of department stores.
Tata Safari launched.
Merind, the group pharma company sold to Wockhardt.
Voltas demerges its white goods and domestic refrigerator into a JV controlled by Electrolux.
FIs block Tata Sons plans to raise stake in ACC through a preferential allotment.
Tata group sells 7.2 per cent of its stake in ACC to Ambuja Cement Holdings, a subsidiary of Gujarat Ambuja Cements.
Tata Group sells their remaining stake in ACC to the GACL group and exits cement business.
Tata Group and Aditya Birla merge their mobile telephony business, latter rebranded as Idea Cellular.
Tata Tea acquires Tetley Group, United Kingdom, for $450 million, the biggest overseas acquisition by any Indian company till then.
Three group power Cos are merged into to Tata Power.
Forms Tata AIG – a JV with American International Group Inc to enter insurance sector.
Tata Sons acquires a controlling stake in VSNL (now known as Tata Communications), India’s leading international telecommunications service provider.
Tata motors acquires commercial vehicles unit of Daewoo Motors, South Korea.
TCS goes public in one of the largest initial public offering in the Indian market, raising nearly $1.2 billlion for Tata Sons.
Indian Hotels unveils IndiOne (now known as Ginger hotels), a first-of-its-kind chain of no-frills budget business hotels.
Tata Steel acquires Singapore-based NatSteel.
VSNL (now known as Tata Communications) acquired Tyco Global Network, making it one of the world’s largest providers of submarine cable bandwidth.
Tata existed Idea Cellular to focus on CDMA based mobile telephony business.
Tata Tea acquired Good Earth coffee brand in US.
Indian Hotels (Taj group) takes over management of The Pierre in New York.
Trent acquired strategic interest in Landmark chain of bookstores.
Tata Motors pick-up strategic stake in Spanish bus/coach maker Hispano.
Ratan Tata and pilot Mike Wallace sit inside the cockpit before flying the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft during the ‘Aero India 2011’ at Yelahanka air force station in Bangalore.
Tata Sky satellite television service launched across the country.
Taj group acquires the Ritz-Carlton, Boston (now known as Taj Boston).
Tata Motors signs JV with Fiat to manufacture cars & engines in India.
Tata Chemicals acquires controlling stake in Brunner Mond Group, UK (now known as Tata Chemicals Europe).
Infiniti Retail launches Croma, India’s first national chain of multi brand outlets for consumer electronics and durable products.
Tata Tea buys Eight o Clock Coffee US, follows up by smaller acquisition in Europe, and South Africa to become one of the world’s top tea and coffee company.
Ratan Tata leaves the venue after receiving the lifetime achievement award for management conferred by the All India Management Association in New Delhi.
Tata Steel acquires the Anglo-Dutch company Corus (now known as Tata Steel Europe), making it the world’s fifth-largest steel producer.
Computational Research Laboratories, a division of Tata Sons, develops Eka, one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.
The Taj group acquires Campton Place Hotel in San Francisco (now known as Taj Campton Place).
Tata Power wins 4000 MW ultra-mega power project at Mundra, Gujarat.
Tata Capital established as a new Tata company in the financial sector.
Indian Hotels picks 11 per cent stake in Orient Express Hotels become its second-biggest shareholder.
Tata Motors signs 51:49 JV with Marcopolo SA, Brazil to manufacture buses in India.
Tata Motors unveils Tata Nano, world’s cheapest car.
Tata Motors acquires the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from the Ford Motor Company.
Mamata Banerjee forced Tata Motors to relocate Nano Plant from Singur.
Tata Chemicals acquires General Chemical Industrial Products Inc (now Tata Chemicals North America).
Tata Teleservices announces pan-India GSM service with NTT Docomo.
TRF acquires Dutch Lanka Trailer Manufacturers, Sri Lanka, a world-class trailer manufacturing company.
Tata Chemicals launches Tata Swach – the world’s most cost-effective water purifier.
Hispano becomes 100 per cent subsidiary of Tata Motors.
TRF acquires UK-based Hewitt Robins International.
New plant for Tata Nano at Sanand inaugurated.
Advinus Therapeutics announces the discovery of a novel molecule – GKM-001 – for the treatment of type II diabetes.
Tata Tea announces joint venture with PepsiCo for health drinks.
Tata Tea rebrands itself as Tata Global Beverages, headquartered in London.
Tata Chemicals acquires 100-per-cent stake in leading vacuum salt producer British Salt, UK.
Tata Chemicals launches i-Shakti dals, enters in food and agri-segment.
Tata BP Solar becomes wholly-owned Tata company (now known as Tata Power Solar Systems).
Tata Global Beverages and Starbucks form joint venture to open Starbucks cafes across India. First outlet launched in October in Mumbai.
Tata Communications completes world’s first wholly-owned cable network ring around the world.
India’s first iodine plus iron fortified salt launched by Tata Chemicals.
Indian Hotels offers to acquire Oriental Express Hotels for $1.2 billion.