Ratan Tata promises to “preserve” brand identitiesHasan Suroor
LONDON: Tata Motors onWednesday announced itsentry into the internationalluxury car market with somestyle as the company snappedup two of Britain's most famousnames in automobilemanufacturing, Jaguar andLand Rover, in a $2.3 billiondeal with Ford, their Americanowners.
"Ford says Tata to Jaguar''declared a front-page headlinein a British newspaperas the country woke up to theloss of a bit of its motoringhistory in a classic case of theempire striking back.
The deal, which followedmonths of protracted negotiationsand is seen as yet anothersign of Indianindustry's growing global ambitions,is the latest in a stringof foreign acquisitions by Tatas,including the Anglo-Dutch steel company Corusand Tetley Tea.
Ratan N. Tata, chairman ofTata Sons and Tata Motors,who has led his company's aggressiveacquisition spreeabroad, promised to "preserve''the iconic identities ofJaguar and Land Rover asanalysts wondered whetherthey were really the right "fit''for a company which isknown more for its hardytrucks and cheap cars.
Reiterating his previous assurancethat he would not"tinker with the brands'' andretain their "image, touch andfeel,'' Mr. Tata said in a statement:"We have enormous respectfor the two brands andwill endeavour to preserveand build on their heritageand competitiveness, keepingtheir identities intact.''
Alan Mulally, presidentand CEO of the Ford MotorCompany, said he was confidentthat the brands would"continue to thrive under Tata'sstewardship.''
Both brands would continueto be manufactured in Britainwith Ford continuing tosupply components and technologyover a mutuallyagreed time-frame. The futureof the 16,000 employeesat Jaguar and Land Rover'sU.K. plants in the West Midlandsand Merseyside wassaid to be safe at least for nowthough there were fears thatif business remained sluggishjob security could become anissue.
Tata Motors said the employees,trade unions and theU.K. Government had beenkept informed of developmentsand they had "indicatedtheir support for theagreement.''
It also said that the partiesdid not anticipate any "significantchanges'' to the employees'terms ofemployment adding thatFord would contribute approximately$600 million tothe pension plans.