Ratan Tata bids adieu

Mumbai: Corporate icon Ratan Tata today retired as Chairman of Tata Group after a 50-year run predicting that India's growth will reestablish after the 'passing phase' of a difficult environment, which will most likely continue in the next year.

Turning 75 today, he kept away from the Bombay House headquarters of the USD 100 billion group but instead spent time with employees in the manufacturing facilities of Tata Motors in Pune.

"At the request of the union, I spent the day – my last day prior to retirement, in the Tata Motors' various manufacturing facilities at Pune to say farewell to my shop floor colleagues. We have been together in good times and bad and have gained closeness based on mutual trust," he tweeted.

He said in his twitter message that going to the plants and receiving greetings from so many colleagues is a great emotional experience.

"I have been deeply moved by the sincerity and spontaneity of their greetings. I will always carry memories of this day with me through the rest of my life," Tata said

In a farewell letter to all the employees, he asked the employees to live by the value systems and ethical standards the group had followed all along.

Cyrus Mistry, the 44-year-old Chairman designate, who is likely to take over as Tata group Chairman tomorrow visited the office today. He was groomed for the assignment by Tata for a year.

He chose group company Tata Motors' sedan Indigo Manza to travel to work on a day that marked an end of an era.

The narrow lane leading to Bombay House, one of the oldest buildings in the heritage Fort area of south Mumbai, had heavy media presence since morning in anticipation of Tata visiting Bombay House.

In his letter to employees, Tata asked his colleagues to show their "support", "commitment" and "dedication" to achieve success in these somewhat difficult times.

"The difficult economic environment that we face in the current year will most likely continue through most of the next year. We will probably see continued constraints in consumer demand, over-capacity and increased competition from imports," he said.

Tata said there will therefore be great pressure on Tata companies to reinvent themselves in terms of business processes and to dramatically reduce costs, to be more aggressive in the market place and to widen their product range to better address consumer needs.

"We will also need to contain our borrowings and work hard to retain our margins. This environment would once again call on you for your support, your commitment and your dedication to achieve success in these somewhat difficult times," he said.

Tata said the seemingly gloomy picture, however, will be a passing phase.

"I feel confident that the robust growth that India has shown over the past several years will be re-established and the strong fundamentals in the country will result in India once again taking its place as one of the economic success stories of the region," he said.

Tata, who helmed the group for 21 years after being chosen successor by his uncle, the iconic JRD Tata, in 1991, is credited with transforming the group through bold decisions including large global acquisitions, even as some of its peers struggled to stay relevant post economic liberalisation.

Mistry, who has been with the group since 2006 in various capacities hails from the Shapoorji Pallonji family, the largest private share holder of the group's holding company Tata Sons.