Tatas successor could be at helm for 30-40 yrs

Mumbai: The Tata group today said the exit of chairman Ratan Tata next year is a cause of concern but exuded hope that his successor — to be elected by a high-profile panel — would settle into the job smoothly and be at the helm probably for a 30-40-year period.

The USD 71-billion group wants the new Chairman to spearhead the group for 3-4-decades and would not like to have one for a small period like five years, Tata Sons Director R Gopalakrishnan told reporters here.

"We think the next leadership is not for five years, but he will be there for 30-40 years, may be," he said.

The group does not want a person who comes in for just five years, takes stock options and departs to the Bahamas, he said.

In the 140-years of the group`s history, Ratan Tata is only the fifth Chairman, which is a sort of a record, Gopalakrishnan said.

He also said that Ratan Tata`s retirement is a cause of concern and we want to see the new Chairman settling down (smoothly). Tata had announced plans to hang up his boots in 2012 when he turns 75.

The mandate to select Ratan Tata`s successor has been vested in a high-profile selection committee.

Two days ago, another Tata Sons Director R K Krishna Kumar had said that the search panel had concluded that it cannot find a "replacement" for the group chief.

Gopalakrishnan asserted that Ratan Tata is the biggest asset to the group and that the group is working to make sure that his stepping down leaves a minimal impact.

He, however, said the Tata brand equity would not be affected by Ratan Tata`s stepping down. "I don`t see it as an issue."

The Tata brand has evolved over the years — from an USD 300-million entity in 1998 it had metamorphosed into an USD 5.5-billion brand in 2005. Now it is estimated at around USD 14 billion, the senior Tata group official said.

Since 2008, the overall trend of the Tata brand has been one of consolidation among all respondents and across every category. The lead the Tata brand enjoys in terms of image shows its healthiness quotient and consistent improvement, he said.

The corporate brand needs a brand health-check periodically. The brand must first earn respect and then strive to earn love, Gopalakrishnan said, adding that the group is presently successfully establishing its brand in South Africa, the US, the UK and China.

Over the past 10 years, the Tata`s Group`s revenue has shot up from Rs 38,607-crore in FY 2000 to Rs 3,19,534- crore in FY 10.