Newsmaker of 2021: N Chandrasekaran

by Sumana Sarkar 26 Dec 2021


The Tata Group is literally firing on all cylinders. Chairman N Chandra’s ‘One Tata Strategy’ played a crucial role in bringing about group synergies.

Earlier this year, Tata Motors became the toast of the town with the billion-dollar (Rs 7,500 crore) fund infusion by TPG Rise Climate. A rather early mover in the EV segment, this investment helped Tata Motors in getting a definitive valuation clarity and the much-needed funding for future growth. One of the key forces driving the EV onslaught has been the bespectacled, calm and the ever smiling Group Chairman,N Chandrasekaran.

Not really known as an automobile enthusiast, Chandra believes in continuing “to proactively invest in exciting products that delights customers.” Under his leadership, Tata Group companies have been literally on a roll and most shares of Tata Group companies have turned multi-baggers in the past year. While Tata Motors has no doubt been one of the star performers with a 20 percent-plus rally, the Group saw almost Rs 70,000 crore jump in its market capitalisation in the past few months. A key catalyst for this was the Group synergies that the EV investment unfolds, not just for Tata Motors but the overall ecosystem.

As Chandra emphasised in a letter to his colleagues in January 2019, what really makes a difference is the ‘One Tata Strategy’. ‘Simplify, Synergise and Scale’ have become the key mantra. He highlighted the synergies in place using the key Tata Motors example — “Tata Motors is leading the effort to develop an Electric Vehicle (EV) ecosystem in partnership with Tata Capital for financing and Tata Power for the charging infrastructure network.”

Interestingly as 2021 draws to a close, Tata Motors is on course to record one of the best resurgence stories, in terms of retail sales. Between April-November, its passenger vehicles clocked robust 85 percent YoY growth and EV sales are pointing to a three-fold rise. It will be interesting, no doubt, to see how the mobility business takes form going forward. Industry insiders have been hinting at a possibility of the passenger vehicle business being spun off as a separate entity. Tata Motors was reportedly in active talks with a prominent Chinese automaker albeit that is now on hold thanks to the growing political tensions between India and China.

The future of the CV business is another interesting aspect to look forward to as well. As a market leader, the company has been consistently clocking double-digit growth in monthly sales. The brief appointment of Marc Llistosella did also point to Chandra and the Group’s leaning towards bringing in more traction in the commercial vehicle space.

No doubt that the passionate long-distance runner that Chandra is, he has his sight fixed on the future. The Group is reportedly in talks with three states to set up a US$300 million semiconductor assembly unit. And the industry grapevine has it that the Tamil Nadu government is mediating talks between Ford and Tata for buyout of the former’s Maraimalai Nagar plant.

Chandrasekaran's favourite painting is that of a meditating Buddha seated near an elephant. He was quoted once that "I like the way the peaceful Buddha can influence that giant creature." As the Tata Group braces itself for the next decade, it goes without saying that this salt-to-software behemoth that operates in more than 90 countries and employs over 200,000 people will surely look back fondly on the way Chandra has steered the company thus far.