2006 has been a year of highs and lows for Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata. He won an award for making social responsibility an integral part of his commercial success -- the eighth head of an international corporation to receive the award -- and his group signed one deal after another throughout the year.
But the Tatas were in the news this year mostly because of their car project in Singur, West Bengal, where farmers are agitating against the 'wrongful acquisition' of their land by the state government for the project. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has thrown her weight behind the farmers, launching a hunger strike against the land acquisition for Tata's new small car. The car is expected to cost just Rs 1 lakh.
This year, Tata Motors and Fiat also decided to invest over Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) in a joint venture to make cars and engines in India.
Controversy also dogged Tata Steel's bid to acquire Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, the world's eighth largest producer. The Tata bid ran into rough weather as Brazilian company CSN became Corus's favourite suitor in the second week of December.
Meanwhile, the Tatas bought Brunner Mond Group Limited, UK; JEMCA, Czech Republic; Eight O Clock Coffee Company, USA; Energy Brands Inc., USA; and a 7.5 per cent stake in Delhi-based budget airline SpiceJet.
Who are your business icons of 2006? Tell us!
Text: Indrani Roy-Mitra
Photograph: Jewella C. Miranda
Also read: How successful is Ratan Tata?