Tata’s Revenue Drops as Commodity Woes Hurt Indian Conglomerate

  • Group’s 2015-16 turnover declined 4.6% to $103 billion
  • Tata invested over $28 billion in the past three years

Tata Group, the coffee-to-cars conglomerate, said revenue slipped 4.6 percent for the year ended in March, hurt by global political uncertainty, a commodity price crash and volatility in currencies.

Revenue at India’s biggest business house dropped to about $103 billion from $108 billion the previous year, according to a statement. The company draws 69 percent of its revenues from overseas, Cyrus Mistry, chairman of holding company Tata Sons Ltd., said in the statement. The market value of its 29 listed companies fell 7.4 percent in the period, outperforming the 9.4 percent drop in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex, it said.

The dip in revenue points to the global headwinds Tata is facing across steel, chemicals and luxury hotels as Mistry tries to bolster profits, cut costs, avoid costly acquisitions and sell non-core assets across group companies.

Mistry, speaking to top Tata executives at an annual leadership conference, reiterated his goal for the group to be, by 2025, “amongst the 25 most admired corporate and employer brands globally, with a market capitalization comparable to the 25 most valuable companies in the world.”

Largest Stake

Mistry, the son of billionaire Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry whose family owns the largest stake in Tata Sons, announced at last year’s meeting that the group would set up a digital health and wellness platform, a consumer analytics division and a “big data” initiative, besides putting together an e-commerce venture.

The group’s steel-making unit, Tata Steel Ltd., has been in talks with prospective buyers, including Excalibur Steel, to sell its U.K. assets but hasn’t closed the deal yet.

Tata Sons is also battling its telecommunications partner, NTT Docomo Inc., in the London Court of International Arbitration. The Japanese firm is demanding a $1.17 billion payment for selling its stake in Tata Group’s wireless business in accordance with a contract signed by the two companies but has run into Indian laws that cap the payment at a lower level.

The group has invested more than $28 billion in the past three years expanding capacity such as a new steel mill in eastern India, according to the statement.

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