With the State government leaving no stone unturned to find a prospective buyer for the factory after the automobile giant announced its exit from the country, the Tata Group is tying up all loose ends before formalising the deal.
According to an industry veteran, Tata and Chennai-based TVS group signing a pact for EV infrastructure fits well in this plan, noting that the Ford plant would require only some modifications in the assembly line, paint shop and press shop.
Setting the stage for the deal-in-the-making, Girish Wagh, who heads Tata Motors’ commercial vehicles unit, has made multiple visits to Chennai to meet top government officials. This was followed by a high-level meeting between Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran and Chief Minister MK Stalin at the latter’s residence on October 6. “Sometimes, the top management of companies prefer to meet CMs at home, as it puts potential investors at ease,” said a former government official.
Ford’s alliance with Mahindra & Mahindra fell through despite them signing a definitive agreement. It was imminent that the iconic American brand was shutting down its operations in this country, said an industry veteran, who added it was ‘plant, product and market matching’ that would determine the structure of the Tata-Ford takeover deal.
The unions at Ford not resorting to agitation signals a positive development, the source said, noting that right now the deal is under “serious consideration”. Also, Ford’s interim MD Anurag Mehrotra, who joined Tata Motors as VP, International Business and Strategy, commercial vehicle business unit, reports to Wagh.
“If Tatas decide to transform the Ford plant into a light commercial vehicle unit, it would spark competition with CV heavyweight Ashok Leyland, which is also based in TN.
While the former Ford MD joining Tata is an indication of the diversified group’s intent, the State-level local productivity linked incentive (PLI) schemes subsidising Ford’s ex-employee costs and supporting existing MSMEs with liberal financial assistance to shift over would be a welcome move to keep the auto ecosystem intact,” said KE Raghunathan, a crusader for MSMEs.