We did better than peers after 1991: Ratan Tata

Jamshedpur: Traditionally a conservative business conglomerate, the Tatas have changed after the launch of economic reforms in 1991 acquiring global brands and performing better than peers, said Group chief Ratan Tata.

"We were too conservative about the liberalisation but tried to change when market was opened in 1991…We, however, did better compared to other companies in the open market," he said during an interactive session organised by Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry here last evening.

The Tata group was USD 5 billion in size when Ratan Tata took over the reins in 1992 as chairman of Tata Sons, but it is going to be a USD 100 billion conglomerate this year with strong global footprint and wide interests ranging from salt to software.

Tata, along with his successor-designate Cyrus Mistry, was here to participate in the 173rd birth anniversary celebrations of Tata Steel`s founder Jamsetji Tata.

Answering questions on iconic car company Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) which Tatas acquired from Ford for USD 2.3 billion in 2008, he said, "The future of JLR is very good and China being the second largest market. We are hopeful of very good future … unless the petrol prices goes high".

Tata further said, "The USA continues to be the good market for Jaguar while presence in Asia is growing momentum particularly to the meteoric rise in demand from car buyers in China.

"We (Tata group) have spent millions to earn a brand name over the years and finally succeeded," he said, stressing that the Group bought the company with a brand name world over.

On Tata Steel Europe (formerly Corus), another global major brand acquired by the Group, Tata admitted that it needed investment and said the likely improvement in the economic situation would help the company.

Tata said, "It (Tata Steel Europe) was performing in negative due to various reasons including the prevailing economic conditions there and high cost of raw materials."

"Our European operation need investment. Let the economic condition improve there, which I hope would take place fast, and (then) we will plan it out," he added.

Tatas had acquired the Anglo-Dutch firm Corus Group for about British Pound 4.3 billion (about Rs 36,000 crore) in 2006.

When urged by President of Adityapur Small Industries Association (ASIA) R K Sinha to buy auto parts from local ancillary units, Tata said, "ancillary products are being bought from Punjab and Gujarat on accounts of quality and sophistication of products."

He added, "We are eager to become partner in your growth but we cannot compromise with quality…We will not compromise with the quality of the products at any cost."

On the need to set up an international airport in Jamshedpur, he said, it was not possible in the city but it could be set up in the vicinity or outside the steel city.