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Ratan Tata, Cyrus Mistry visit China to cement business relationship

MUMBAI: The $100-billion salt-to-softwareTata Group is stepping up its engagement with Chinese banks and companies. As JLR's new JV in China gathers momentum, the senior leadership is visiting the Chinese capital as part of a strategic review of operations in the world's second largest economy. 

Chairman Emeritus 
Ratan Tata along with his successor Cyrus Mistry, who are in Beijing, met senior bankers and government officials in China on Thursday, said multiple officials in the know. 

Meetings with two of the senior bankers, Hu Huaibang, chairman of 
China Development Bank, the country's largest offshore lender and also the world's largest policy bank, and Jiang Jianqing, chairman of Industrial &Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world's largest by its market capitalisation, were on the agenda, said the officials in the know of things. 

There is a lot of interest around what is being described as Mistry's first serious engagement with senior Chinese bankers after becoming Tata Group chairman. The meeting comes at a time when the Tata-owned 
Jaguar Land Rover has entered into a $1.75-billion joint venture with its local partner Chery Automobile to manufacture its marquee super premium cars and off-roaders in the booming Communist nation, the world's largest automobile market. 

The Tata Group spokesperson did not wish to comment on the issue. CDB and 
ICBC did not respond to ET's email queries. 

"The Tata Group and the Chinese have a relationship that is over 150 years old. And with JLR setting up its first ever plant outside UK that will also produce a new China focussed brand, the bond is only getting stronger. After TCS, JLR also will generate local jobs now. There is also a lot of interest around the new leadership at the Tatas in Beijing," said a senior official in the know. 

Various Tata entities including TCS, Tata Steel, JLR, 
Tata CommunicationsBSE 0.30 % andTKM Global Logistics, employ over 4,000 people in China. The top line of the Tata Group has grown from $1 billion in 2008 to over $4 billion in 2011. Both Tata SteelBSE 0.48 % and Jaguar Land Rover have crossed the billion dollar mark. Indeed JLR's fortunes are inextricably linked to China its largest market. In the last three years, the iconic British brand has been investing in sales and related infrastructure to develop an extensive dealer network with 163 authorised dealers.

Tata Group flagship TCS was also the first Indian software company to set up operations in China in 2002. In 2005, the company was invited by the Chinese Government to form a joint venture supported by the National Development and Reforms Commission and Microsoft to create a large-scale global off-shoring base in the country. TCS currently operates out of six locations and its solutions are today even used by leading Chinese banks and financial institutions. 

Mistry hosted Chinese Premier 
Li Keqiang when he paid a visit to the TCS global development centre in suburban Mumbai during his India visit last month. It was only Indian private corporate on Li's itinerary during his three-day visit, underscoring the strategic ties between the two. Chinese telecom equipment vendors also provide key backbone support to Tata Teleservices. 

"China is a very important geography for the future growth of the Tata group and we continue to increase our 
investments and scale of operations in that country. We have made substantial investments in many sectors across China and believe that there can be tremendous cross learning between India and China in the field of technology," Mistry had said then. 

Later that evening, repeatedly citing the example of the Tata Group, Li Keqiang told a CEO delegation during his business dinner in Mumbai that the Tatas had taken the initiative to set up base in the Middle Kingdom and today they are already reaping the benefits. "They have grown in India and likewise have grown in China. I request Indian CEOs to come to China and do what the Tatas have done."