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Tata clarifies comments on Ambani's billion-dollar home

Last updated on: May 23, 2011 12:04 IST

Tata clarifies comments on Ambani's billion-dollar home

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A probable war of words between India's two most famous corporate honchos -- Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani -- might just be on the horizon. Even though the Tatas have denied having sparked it off, saying that Ratan .Tata's remarks were taken out of context'.

The history: In an interview with London's Times newspaper, Ratan Tata was quoted taking a dig at Mukesh Ambani's billion-dollar mansion in Mumbai.

According to the Times, the Tata Group chairman said, "It makes me wonder why someone would do that (that is, live in a billion-dollar mansion). That's what revolutions are made of."

"The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and [asking] can he make a difference. If he is not, then it's sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have," the Times interview quoted Tata.

Tata, who bought the British steel maker Corus and car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said, the widening gap between the rich and the poor in India worried him.

"We are doing so little about the disparity. We are allowing it to be there and wishing it away."

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Image: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters
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Corporate Wars: Tata clarifies comments on Ambani home

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Following the alleged comment, people raised questions asking Ratan Tata. 'Does Mercedes, Radia, Jet, 2G Licences Show Love 4 Poor?' asked a particularly nasty Tweet.

However, the Tatas disputed the reported attribution to its chairman, saying that the comments were taken out of context and are factually incorrect. Tata Sons said that Ratan Tata's comments on wealth were in the larger context of the growing disparity in the society and not targeted at any individual.

"We would also like to clarify on stories in Indian media regarding Mr Ambani's home. The comments seem to have been deliberately sensationalised," a spokesperson of Tata Sons said in a statement.

"There have been words, individuals and statements that have not been mentioned by Mr Tata during the course of the interaction which are being attributed to him. We have already registered our protest with the concerned publication and will continue to pursue measures against the incorrect impressions being sought to be created," the statement added.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani's Mumbai home - Antilia
Photographs: Reuters
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In the interview, Tata also suggested that Noel Tata, his relation and a contender to succeed him, may not be ready for the top post yet because of less exposure.

Eleven candidates, including Noel (who is Tata's half-brother) have reportedly been short listed for the post of the Group chairman.

Tata said he was not involved in the search for his successor, but suggested he did not think Noel, who took over as head of international operations last year, was ready for the role.

"I think if he (Noel) is to run this, he should have greater exposure than he has had. Partly his not having it has been his own choice," said Tata, who will retire next year when he turns 75.

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Image: Naval Tata, Ratan Tata and Noel Tata (in the centre)
Photographs: Courtesy, Outlook Business
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In the interview, Tata also suggested that Noel Tata, his relation and a contender to succeed him, may not be ready for the top post yet because of less exposure. Eleven candidates, including Noel (who is Tata's half-brother) have reportedly been shortlisted for the post of the Group chairman.

Tata said he was not involved in the search for his successor, but suggested he did not think Noel, who took over as head of international operations last year, was ready for the role.

"I think if he (Noel) is to run this, he should have greater exposure than he has had. Partly his not having it has been his own choice," said Tata, who will retire next year when he turns 75.

On the other issue where the interview had reported him as having been critical, on the work culture in Land Rover and Jaguar, acquired by the Tata Group in 2008, Tata was quoted as saying managers' work ethics were not to go the extra mile and to leave early on Friday afternoons.

The comments were not targeted at the company's managers today, but for those at the time of acquisition, the statement said, adding that the new management had eliminated those practices.

However, responding to the Tatas' complaint, the Times has stated: "The Times has quoted Mr Tata accurately."

There has been no comment from Reliance Industries in this matter.


Photographs: Reuters
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