Tata defends JLR acquisition

Despite the hype surrounding its mini-car Nano, the focus at Tata Motor's 64th annual general meeting was firmly on its expensive British acquisitions, Jaguar and Land Rover.

''We are confident of making JLR leaner and cost effective. The market conditions have got worse for volumes, but are encouraging for new products, and several mew models will come,'' group chairman Ratan N Tata told the meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday.

''There are challenges but it is not due to our products or portfolio but due to the overall economic condition worldwide,'' he said. Refuting the perception that the JLR acquisition was overpriced and mistimed, Tata said that the acquisition has been worthwhile. ''JLR gives us entry into high end and performance cars. And we get access to defence through Land Rover range,'' he said.

However, he mentioned in passing that if Jaguar and Land Rover were on sale separately, the company would have just looked at Land Rover. But the two were put on sale together by its earlier owner Ford.

Tata said plans are in place to revive the fortunes of JLR, but refused to give a time frame within which the firm would break even. ''We would finance and leverage the company even further. There have been some encouraging signs. There are some new products still to come,'' he said.

''These are challenging circumstances, but we have been successful in getting the refinancing and State Bank of India has stood by us even during this time,'' he added. The total debt of the company now stands at Rs16,900 crore.