Ratan Tata – The Great Ratan of India

Ratan Naval Tata was born on December 28, 1937, in Bombay, present day Mumbai, to the Tatas, one of the richest and most powerful families that the world has ever seen. A Tata by birth, Ratan is the great-grandson of Jamsedji Tata, the founder of the Tata Group.

The Beginning

In 1948, his parents, Naval and Sonoo Tata separated which emotionally scarred the young boy. Subsequently, he was adopted and raised by his grandmother and the widow of Sir Ratanji Tata, Lady Navajbai, in the lap of luxury at Tata Palace

The young prodigy began his academic journey at the Campion School in Mumbai where he studied till the 8th grade. He then shifted schools and got enrolled in the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, followed by the Bishop Cotton School in Shimla.

In 1955, the young Tata graduated from Riverdale Country School in New York City and went onto study architecture and structural engineering at Cornell University.

Joining The Tata Group

After graduating in 1959, the young prodigy returned to India and officially joined the Tata Group in 1961

There has been a tradition in the Tata family of inducting members of the family into the business after a strict trial-by-ordeal. Consequently, Ratan’s first job involved working with the Tata Steel division of the Group in Jamshedpur. Here, he helped the blue-collar employees work the blast furnace and shovel the limestone.

Over the next few years, Young Ratan gained experience in several other businesses owned by the family and was appointed the Director-in-Charge of the National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nelco) in 1971. Four years down the lane, in 1975, he went to Boston to pursue a seven-week Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

Chairman Of Tata Industries

Tata later paved his way to becoming the Chairman of Tata Industries in 1981. A decade later, in 1991, he succeeded his uncle, J.R.D. Tata, as chairman of the Tata Group. Upon assuming leadership of the conglomerate, the young businessman faced stiff opposition from many of the directors heading the companies who considered Ratan’s focus on innovative strategies and infusion of young talent as a threat to their power and influence.

Consequently, the Indian billionaire initiated a culling of the old management by setting a retirement age. Furthermore, he made them accountable to the group office to whom each of them would also contribute a fair share of the profits their respective companies made.

Perhaps one of the primary aims of the young leader was to expand the business and globalize it. In 1994, the group’s lifestyle company, Titan, penetrated the Indian jewelry market with the launch of Tanishq.

Manufacturing Cars

Four years later, in 1988, the company launched Fastrack to target the youth market for watches, and Tata Group’s Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (TELCO) launched the Tata Indica, the country’s first locally designed and manufactured car, and Tata Safari which became India’s first SUV.

The turn of the century saw the Indian billionaire receiving the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in the Republic of India. Subsequently, Tata began a long streak of acquisitions that began with the group’s Tata Foods acquiring the London-based Tetley Tea for $431.3 million in 2000.

In 2002, the group purchased a controlling stake in Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) to establish Tata Communications. Two years down the lane, in 2004, Tata Motors took over the truck-manufacturing operations of South Korea’s Daewoo Motors for $102 million. 2006 was a year of innovation for Tata. The group responded to the increased demand for direct broadcast satellite services with the launch of its Direct-to-Home provider, Tata Sky.

Tata Steel

In 2007, the Indian billionaire oversaw Tata Steel finalizing the biggest corporate takeover undertaken by an Indian company with the purchase of the giant Anglo-Dutch steel manufacturer, Corus Group, for $11.3 billion. Subsequently, the company opened its European division to serve the construction, packaging, engineering, and automotive industries.

The following year, in 2008, Tata Motors signed a $2.3 billion deal to mark the largest-ever acquisition by an Indian automotive firm to take over the elite British car brands of Land Rover and Jaguar from the Ford Motor Company.

The Tata Nano

In 2009, Tata Motors launched the ‘people’s car’, Tata Nano. The tiny rear-engined, pod-shaped vehicle aimed at making safe transport affordable for millions around the world and was priced at just INR 100,000.

In 2010, the Indian billionaire funded the construction of an executive center at Harvard Business School. The hall was subsequently named after him as Tata Hall. The following year, he inaugurated the Tata Medical Center in Kolkata for the provision of cancer care and treatment facilities to the needy.

In 2012, Tata Global Beverages Limited (TGBL) announced a joint venture with the international coffee giant, Starbucks, which initiated the fastest rollout of stores in Starbucks’ history. The same year, on his 75th birthday, after steering the conglomerate for 21 years, during which it witnessed revenues growing over 40 times, and profits, over 50 times, Ratan Naval Tata Tata retired as chairman of the Tata Group.

He briefly served as interim chairman in 2016 when the board of directors of Tata Group voted for the ousting of Ratan’s successor, Cyrus Mistry. The removal which was termed as being illegal by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) led to a court case between Tata Sons and Mistry. As of 2020, the Supreme Court has stayed the proceedings.

The Retirement

The Indian billionaire tycoon returned to retirement in 2017 when the board elected Natarajan Chandrasekaran as the new chairman. He left behind him a business empire worth more than 100 billion dollars that net him a sizeable fortune.

While a large chunk of his wealth is spent on philanthropic attempts for the provision of education, medicine, and rural development, the industrialist has also made some small-time investments in startups such as Snapdeal, CashKaro.com, Ola Cabs, Teabox, and Paytm. Tata also owns a sizeable stake in the Chinese smartphone company, Xiaomi.

He currently resides in a 13,350 square foot bungalow in Mumbai’s Colaba district. A bachelor all his life, Ratan Tata lives there with his two beloved pet dogs named Tito and Maximus.

My Thoughts

The global automotive industry offers a massive opportunity to create wealth. The emergence of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) has opened up the market for many entrepreneurs.

Many new EV companies have launched worldwide to try and take a slice of this growth industry. The motoring market is no longer controlled by the established brands.

As battery technology advances, the EV industry is gradually replacing cars that run on fossil fuels. There are also many EV battery manufacturers cropping up worldwide. The EV market is big and will experience massive growth worldwide in the next few years.

This is a really good time to get involved in this sector. You can start off by investing in companies that manufacture EV’s, batteries and also companies that mine and supply the metals used in EV batteries.

The main metals used in EV batteries are Lithium, Cobalt, and Nickel. Keep your ears pealed for investment opportunities related to these metals.

The price of these metals will increase exponentially as the demand increases globally. The stock price of companies producing EV’s and EV batteries will also increase as the demand goes up.

This is my opinion on this industry, you should carry out your own research before making any investments.


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