Midland industrialist Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya has been named on a panel to search for one of the most important people in the global automotive industry.
The Birmingham Post columnist and founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group will sit alongside four other panel members charged with finding a successor to 72-year-old Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata by March next year.
Lord Bhattacharyya is the only external member of the group who will select the man ultimately in control of Jaguar Land Rover.
This comes after JLR unveiled record-breaking profits of nearly £234 million in the last quarter.
A Tata spokesman said Mr Tata is due to retire at the end of next year and the committee has already got to work to identify a successor.
He added: “The committee is in the process of formulating criteria for identifying the most suitable candidate taking into account the global nature and complexity of the group’s business at the present time.
“The group would require someone with experience and exposure to direct its growth amidst the challenges of the global economy. The selection process for a prospective candidate would consider suitable persons from within the Tata Companies, other professionals in India as well as persons overseas with global experience.”
Tata has been guarded about the composition of the panel which reportedly includes former vice-chairman N.A. Soonavala, now on the board of the Sir Dorab Tata trust, directors R.K. Krishnakumar and Cyrus Mistry, and group adviser and lawyer Shirin Bharucha.
The new man at the helm of the firm will have to be globally aware as around two-thirds of the group’s revenue, which has grown 12 times since Mr Tata took over in 1991, now comes from outside India. Lord Bhattacharyya is a close friend of Mr Tata and has played a major part in the group’s expansion into the UK in recent years.
The Warwick-based engineer was born in India and studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, but went on to become a member of the UK Council for Science and Technology and served as a scientific adviser to the South African government.
Mumbai-based Tata Motors revealed sales of £3.7 billion for the last quarter, on the back of significant progress in global sales of both Jaguars and Land Rovers. Group-wide it made a profit of £272 million in April, May and June, with JLR reporting quarterly profits of £233.82 million.