Monday, November 30, 2009

How To Derive 65% Of Your Revenue Outside Your Home Country

India-based Tata Group chairman, 71-year-old Ratan Tata, has pushed to expand internationally. In an interview with a WSJ reporter Paul Beckett, he talks about the value of recent acquisitions his firm has made, succession plans for when he retires and how Indian companies can manage their image in the United States.

First, though, a couple of highlights.

When asked about two specific acquisitions:
Tata: If we assume that the global meltdown is a phenomenon that will be over in the near term, I think we will look back and say that these are very strategic and worthwhile acquisitions.
What has he done well?
Tata: One company standout is Tata Motors. It was particularly badly hit with its acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover, which was in trouble because of the collapse of the auto industry abroad. Tata Motors was able to extinguish its borrowing of $3 billion through this difficult period, and most people don't realize the magnitude of that task. This was executed very quietly and very successfully. It was achieved by raising new capital and it was achieved by liquidating some of the assets. And it was done by increasing margins by doing away with some loose practices.
How are you conducting the search for your successor?
Tata: ... I would hope, would have integrity and our value systems in the forefront and hopefully would carry on the path that we have tried to set for the company's growth.
Interrupt: Amazingly, 65 percent of Tata's revenues come from overseas.

How have you seen the relationship between India and the U.S. developing both on a government-to-government and business-to-business level?
Tata: ... We should not be aggressive and alien to the kind of pain that is happening [in the U.S.]. And we should find ways to be complementary to the needs of U.S. companies and not in fact be a pain to them. I believe we still have the cost advantage which we can use to the benefit of U.S. companies without in fact taking jobs away from them. If we can overcome the difficult period that the U.S. is undergoing, I think we can emerge as a very strong business ally of the U.S.
Read the entire interview here.

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