Stays out of spotlight: Noel Tata
INDIA’S Tata chief Ratan Tata has confirmed that his half-brother Noel Tata is in the running to replace him as head of the giant steel-to-tea conglomerate.Ratan Tata, who is to step down at the end of 2012 at age 75, has propelled the group’s global expansion that has included the purchase of British luxury car marques Jaguar and Land Rover.Noel Tata “is one of the candidates that are being considered,” Ratan Tata told broadcaster CNN in a wide-ranging interview aired today. “I hope that by first half of this year, we’ll be able to define a suitable candidate with who one can overlap for a short period of time before I move away,” he added.Last August, the conglomerate named a five-member panel to hunt for a successor to Ratan Tata, known as one of India’s most powerful and respected business leaders.“I’ve stayed away from that committee because I think that committee should operate independently without the force of someone who is looking over their shoulder,” he said.Until now, Ratan Tata has not mentioned the names of any of the contenders, saying only that the candidate could come from inside or outside the group.For years, Noel Tata toiled out of the spotlight, heading the group’s retail unit, Trent, which contributes a small percentage of the multinational’s annual revenues of $75bn (£45.92bn).But last year, Noel Tata was put in charge of Tata International, the group’s global trading arm, which deals in a raft of products from minerals, steel to engineering and has 42 offices around the globe.At the time, Indian media suggested the promotion put Noel Tata, 53, who holds an MBA from top-tier French business school Insead, firmly in the running for the top job.The Tata group, India’s oldest business house, has been run by a family member since 1868.Other potential candidates who have been mentioned are Arun Sarin, former chairman of British phone giant Vodafone, and Nuslia Wadia, chairman of Indian textiles giant Bombay Dying.Since Ratan Tata last year announced his intention to step down, speculation about his replacement has been one of India’s biggest guessing games.
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