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Modesty The chairman ot theTata Group ” India’s biggest conglomerate, with businesses ranging from software, cars, andsteel to phone service, tea bags, and wristwatches ” usually drives himself to the office in his$12, 500 Tata Indigo Marina wagon. He prefers to spend weekends in solitude with his two dogsat a beachfront home he designed himself. And disdainful of pretense, he travels alone even onlong business trips, eschewing the retinues of oldes who typically coddle corporate chieftdlns.

But the 69-year-old Tata also has a daredevil streak, An avid aviator, he often flies a orporateFalcon 2000 jet around Indla_ And In February he caused a sensation at the Aero India 2007 airshow by co-piloting Lockheed (LMT) F-16 and Boeing (BA) F-18 fighter jets. Tata’s business dealings reflect the bolder side of hispersonality. In the past four years he hasembarked on an investment binge that is building his group from a once-stodgy regional playerinto a global heavy-vveight.

Since 2003, Tata has bought the truck unit of South Korea’s DaewooMotors, a stake in one of Indonesia’s biggest coal mines, and steel mills In Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It has taken ver d slew of tony hotels Including New York’s Pierre, the Ritz-Carlton In Boston, and San Francisco’s Camden Place, The 2004 purchase of Tyco International’s(TYC) undersea telecom cables for $130 million, a price that In hindsight looks Ilke a steal, turned Tata into the world’s biggest carrier ot international phone calls.

With its $91 millionbuyoutof British engineering firm Incat International, Tata Technologies now is a major supplierof outsourced industrial design for American auto and aerospace companies, with 3, 300engineers in India, the U. S. , and Europe. The rowning deal to date has been Tata Steel’s $13 billion takeover in April of Dutch Britishsteel giant Corus Group, a target that would have been unthinkable Just d few years ago. In oneswoop, the move greatly expends Teta Steel’s range of finished products, secures access toautomakers across the u. , and Europe, and boosts Its capacity fivefold, with mills added Inpennsylvanla and OhloNow, a new gambit may catapult Tata into the big leagues ot global auto manufacturing: Thecompany is said to be weighing a bid for Jaguar Cars and Land Rover, which Ford Motor Co. (F)wants to el

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