Tata assures British workers, says India has changed


London : Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata has said his Indian multinational does not “create a trauma” when it takes over companies amid media speculation that he may have to close down either the Jaguar or Land Rover plant if he succeeds in buying the British automakers.

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In comments published Thursday, Tata for the first time also hit back at American critics of his group’s takeover bids, suggesting they held outdated and stereotypical views of India as a “land of tigers, jungles and cobras”.

“We do not create a trauma within the company we take over. We do not slash costs or strip it,” he told the Times newspaper.

“In every case, we have been keen that management stays and we have protected their autonomy,” he added as global speculation mounted over his Tata Motors’ bid to take over the British luxury carmakers Jaguar and Land Rover.

Tata is said to be in pole position ahead of Mahindra and Mahindra and One Equity for the iconic British brands, which employ around 18,000 workers.

Tata’s comments came as the Daily Mail quoted unnamed experts to say the two companies, which share some key facilities have “one factory too many” between them, and that Tata Motors may have to shed some jobs if it wins the bid.

Land Rover is made at Solihull in the West Midlands and Gaydon, Warwickshire. Jaguar is manufactured at Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham; Whitley, in Coventry; and Halewood on Merseyside, where it shares production with Land Rover.

The newspaper said Land Rover’s Solihull plant could be the most vulnerable, particularly as production of the Land Rover Freelander has already been switched to Halewood.

Experts told the paper that in future all Land Rover cars could be built at Halewood, with all Jaguar production concentrated at Castle Bromwich.

However, the chief British workers’ union representing workers at the plants have already given the go-ahead to the Tata bid, saying they favoured the Indian group after hearing presentations from all three bidders.

In the interview, Ratan Tata acknowledged the image disparity that could follow the acquisition of the luxury Land Rover and Jaguar, given that Tata Motors are also about to roll out the world’s cheapest car.

“How a company manages products in different sectors is the key,” Tata said.

“Toyota created Lexus, Nissan has Infiniti. No one is saying ‘how can BMW handle the Mini?’ but they’ve made a huge success of it. So why is it impossible?”

But Tata hit out at his American critics, saying, “More often than not they are people who still look at India as the land of tigers, jungles and cobras and end up making statements about vindaloo.”

A prototype of the so-called ‘One Lakh Car’ is to be unveiled at the Delhi auto show next month in what could set a global trend.

“It’s amusing and ironic because nearly everyone said it could not be done,” Tata said.

“Some have been derogatory, some dismissive, yet all are entering this area themselves. It vindicates what we set out to do.”