We went too far with JLR: Ratan Tata

May 10th, 2009 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown London, May 10 (IANS) Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tata says he may have overstretched himself in paying 1.15 billion pounds for Jaguar Land Rover just as a recession loomed.
“If one had known there was going to be a meltdown, then yes [Tata went too far] but nobody knew,” he told the Sunday Times newspaper in an interview.

Tata bought the iconic British car manufacturers for 1.15 billion pounds in April 2008 - just over a year after he paid 6.7 billion pounds for acquiring the steelmaker Corus.

“Both the acquisitions were made, I would say at an inopportune time in the sense that they were near the top of the market in terms of price,” Tata said.

However, Tata squarely blamed the British government for not doing enough to help JLR secure credits to help it tide over the current slump in demand for cars, saying a further delay could torpedo plans to develop fuel-efficient hybrid cars and resurrect the Jaguar E-type model.

“I would like to see us coming out of the recession with these new products in place. What would be sad - remorseful - is if the meltdown continues and we can’t get access to funds.

“I would like to see the British government playing only one role. It controls the banks and all I seek is the facilitation to provide access to credit on commercial terms. Its not a bailout,” he added.

Tata, one of the largest foreign investors in Britain, warned: “We’re responsible for the fortunes of the company but it is a bone-dry situation in terms of access to credit. Nobody can operate on that basis unless you have large cash balances, which we don’t.

“My concern is that the government doesn’t appear to care about manufacturing.”

However, Tata exempted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown from criticism, saying: “He is a very sincere person and has been very supportive.”

Corus and JLR together employ some 40,000 people but a global slump in demand for both steel and cars has seen Corus shut down facilities in Britain, laying off 5,000 staff and JLR making hundreds of redundancies.

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