Given all the flack that’s been flying about for eternity about the terms being imposed by the British Government on Tata for a loan to save JLR, I was pleased to read that Tata has secured non-government finance for JLR, which I’m sure would’ve been their first choice of funding, in any case.
In Tata’s benefit, I’d like to add that their track record demonstrates their commitment to fairness and responsible behaviour. They, themselves, wouldn’t have wanted taxpayer money, unless they were in such dire straits, as has been the case with JLR.
However, Mandelson was right to ensure that the benefit of any funds has to favour the taxpayer. He’s played a great game in ensuring that Tata work harder to secure funding from other sources.
For me what has been remarkable is the way and extent that Tata have used the media to get their points across. Generally speaking, Indian CEO’s shoot from the hip and everything Tata has said on-air has been well scripted and spoken. Take for example Ratan Tata’s appearance on Sky News in which he asked the government not to “play chicken with him”. Such articulation is rare in Indian business circles.
Full marks to his advisers.
Just watched the Ratan Tata interview on Sky News in which he issues a stark warning to HMG about the need to provide funding to Jaguar Land Rover. He said something to the effect of “…the government is being shortsighted in playing a game of chicken with us, as the result could be devastating for the UK economy”.
More than the message, what impressed me was their realisation that they have a far larger armoury at their disposal than what they’ve previously believed. By using a TV interview to tom-tom his messages, he’s reaching out to a far bigger set of stakeholders to persuade them to use any leverage they may have with the Government to secure the best deal possible.
Having worked in and around Westminster, I have no doubt that Peter Mandelson has Ratan Tata’s mobile number on his speed dial and speaks to him often, for the simple reason that Tata employs nearly 50,000 people in Britain alone.
What Ratan Tata says and thinks is important to the Government and for this reason, I think that by using such tactics, he is preparing himself to throw everything – including the kitchen sink – at ensuring a positive outcome for his company.
For the record, I’m sure that Mandelson – in these times, has a massive job in figuring out what’s best for the country, the one thing he should factor into his thinking is that Tata has a fantastic, ethical, and serious track record in doing the right thing with the long term in mind.