Tata companies operate in seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals. They are, by and large, based in India and have significant international operations. The total revenue of Tata companies, taken together, was $70.8 billion (around Rs325,334 crore) in 2008-09, with 64.7 per cent of this coming from business outside India, and they employ around 357,000 people worldwide. The Tata name has been respected in India for 140 years for its adherence to strong values and business ethics.
Every Tata company or enterprise operates independently. Each of these companies has its own board of directors and shareholders, to whom it is answerable. There are 27 publicly listed Tata enterprises and they have a combined market capitalisation of some $60 billion, and a shareholder base of 3.5 million. The major Tata companies are Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Tea, Indian Hotels and Tata Communications.
Tata Steel became the sixth largest steel maker in the world after it acquired Corus. Tata Motors is among the top five commercial vehicle manufacturers in the world and has recently acquired Jaguar and Land Rover. TCS is a leading global software company, with delivery centres in the US, UK, Hungary, Brazil, Uruguay and China, besides India. Tata Tea is the second largest branded tea company in the world, through its UK-based subsidiary Tetley. Tata Chemicals is the world’s second largest manufacturer of soda ash and Tata Communications is one of the world’s largest wholesale voice carriers.
In tandem with the increasing international footprint of Tata companies, the Tata brand is also gaining international recognition. Brand Finance, a UK-based consultancy firm, recently valued the Tata brand at $9.92 billion and ranked it 51st among the world's Top 100 brands. Businessweek magazine ranked Tata 13th among the '25 Most Innovative Companies' list and the Reputation Institute, USA, recently rated it 11th on its list of world's most reputable companies.
Founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, Tata’s early years were inspired by the spirit of nationalism. It pioneered several industries of national importance in India: steel, power, hospitality and airlines. In more recent times, its pioneering spirit has been showcased by companies such as TCS, India’s first software company, and Tata Motors, which made India’s first indigenously developed car, the Indica, in 1998 and recently unveiled the world’s lowest-cost car, the Tata Nano.
Tata companies have always believed in returning wealth to the society they serve. Two-thirds of the equity of Tata Sons, the Tata promoter company, is held by philanthropic trusts that have created national institutions for science and technology, medical research, social studies and the performing arts. The trusts also provide aid and assistance to non-government organisations working in the areas of education, healthcare and livelihoods. Tata companies also extend social welfare activities to communities around their industrial units. The combined development-related expenditure of the trusts and the companies amounts to around 4 per cent of the net profits of all the Tata companies taken together.
Going forward, Tata is focusing on new technologies and innovation to drive its business in India and internationally. The Nano car is one example, as is the Eka supercomputer (developed by another Tata company), which in 2008 was ranked the world’s fourth fastest. Anchored in India and wedded to traditional values and strong ethics, Tata companies are building multinational businesses that will achieve growth through excellence and innovation, while balancing the interests of shareholders, employees and civil society.