Ratan Tata, the global car industry veteran who oversaw the 2.3 billion dollar purchase of Jaguar Land Rover, is stepping down as group chairman after a 50-year career.
Mr Tata, 72, will leave the post in December 2012, half a century after he first joined the Tata Group, which mushroomed to employ almost 360,000 people worldwide across a range of businesses including cars, tea, hotels and steel.
In a statement, Tata Sons, the group’s holding company, said it had begun a global search for a successor to Mr Tata, the man at the corporate helm when the Indian group bought JLR from Ford in summer 2008.
The vehicle maker has undergone a turbulent two years as the recession bit hard into sales, leading to cutbacks in production and an announcement last September that one of the two West Midland plants at Solihull or Castle Bromwich was to close.
But JLR has since swung back into profit as sales have increased, with both Land Rover and Jaguar enjoying further sales rises in July.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that Land Rover clocked up a 55 per cent increase in sales from 1,582 in July 2009 to 2,453 last month. Jaguar sales also rose year on year, from 1,218 in July 2009 to 1,383 last month, up 13.55 per cent.
Land Rover sales are up by more than 63 per cent so far in 2010, with 24,479 sales to the end of July compared to 14,974 for the corresponding period last year.