Tata looks at solar and mining

Posted On Sunday, 03 October 2010 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Biofuels, agriculture and luxury hotels on the agenda as Indian giant is geared to invest further on the African continent.

 OK KaulBiofuels, agriculture and luxury hotels on the agenda as Indian giant is geared to invest further on the African continent.

Indian diversified industrial giant, Tata, is looking at opportunities for further investments in SA, including in biofuels, solar energy, agriculture and mining. But the country will have to wait for some time for the local release of the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car, said OK Kaul, executive director of Tata International.

Tata, which is active in SA's automotive, information technology and telecommunications sectors, has ''many projects in the pipeline" for SA, Kaul said at a media briefing in Mumbai this week.

While the group is "looking at opportunities all over the world", Africa is high on its agenda. Investments in any sectors, with the exception of alcohol and tobacco, would be considered if the group was one of the main industry leaders, he said.

South Africans will have to wait, however, for the Nano. Tata is struggling to cope with demand in India for this small car, which is perfect for driving in the country's highly congested cities.

An upgraded version of the Nano, launched in March last year, is planned for 2011.

In India - where the group was founded in the 1880s by Jamshetji Tata, the great-grandfather of current chairman Ratan Tata - Tata is a leading player in almost every imaginable sector, from tea plantations and truck manufacturing to running the entire town of Jamshedpur, where it operates a steel plant. About 66% of the group's equity is held by charitable trusts.

Ratan, 72, a bachelor, owns about 1% of the stock and his retirement will spell the end of a Tata at the steering wheel of the company. Tata is the world's lowest-cost steel producer, mainly thanks to its control over raw materials supply.

In SA, Tata has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Industrial Development Corporation with the aim of establishing steel production facilities here, but the understanding is that no significant investments will be made before iron ore supply at affordable rates can be guaranteed.

Kaul declined to give details on its steel plans for SA and did not want to elaborate on the regulatory and other challenges faced by new entrants to the local mining industry.

"In every country, we do business, we have to work under the priorities of the specific government," he said.

The group's world-renowned Taj hotel chain, which opened a luxury hotel in Cape Town this year, in time for the World Cup, plans to set up a hotel in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, and possibly in Durban, a spokesman for the group said.

Tata's Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, which was attacked by Pakistani terrorists two years ago, is seen as one of the key milestones in the establishment of the Tata Group.

Built in 1903, it is a famous landmark in the country, looking out over the Gateway of India. Tata's great-grandfather decided to build the ultra-luxurious Taj Mahal Palace for the sole use of Indian nationals, after he was turned away from a British-owned hotel when he tried to have a business meeting. "No dogs or Indians allowed," the sign at the hotel reportedly said.

How the world has changed. Jamshedji Tata, seen as the father of Indian industry, must have smiled this week when Tata Corus, the group's British steelmaking arm, which includes the assets of the formerly UK state-owned British Steel, announced its rebranding. From now, it will simply be known as Tata Steel Europe.

Last modified on Friday, 29 November 2013 12:46
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