FACTBOX - Tata group's five chairmen since 1868

Fri May 27, 2011 1:00pm IST

Chairman of Tata group Ratan Tata gestures during a news conference in Kolkata October 3, 2008. REUTERS/Parth Sanyal/Files

Chairman of Tata group Ratan Tata gestures during a news conference in Kolkata October 3, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Parth Sanyal/Files

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REUTERS - India's sprawling $67 billion Tata conglomerate is searching for a successor to Chairman and Chief Executive Ratan Tata. Below is a brief history of the five chairmen in the group's 143-year history.

1868-1904 -- Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata laid the foundation of what would grow to become the Tata group. He trained in England and established a trading company and textile mills in India. He set up The Indian Hotels Company and built the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, India's first luxury hotel, which opened in 1903.

He also established the JN Tata Endowment to encourage Indian scholars to take up higher studies. It was the first of many philanthropic trusts by the Tata Group, which today control 65.8 per cent of the shares of Tata Sons, the group's holding company.

1904-1932 -- Sir Dorab Tata established the Tata Iron and Steel Company (now Tata Steel). In 1907, he set up its first office overseas, Tata Ltd in London. He built the Tata Oil Mills Company to make soaps, detergents and cooking oils, which was sold in 1984 to the company now called Hindustan Unilever.

1932-1938 -- Sir Nowroji Saklatwala, Jamsetji's sister's son. Died of a heart attack after a brief stint at the top.

1932-1991 -- Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata. Known as JRD, he was the longest-serving chairman of the group. In 1932, he founded Tata Aviation Service (now state-owned Air India). Also founded Tata Chemicals (1939), Tata Motors and Tata Industries (both 1945), Voltas (1954), Tata Tea (1962), Tata Consultancy Services (1968) and Titan Industries (1984).

1991-present -- Ratan Tata. He founded Tata Teleservices and also designed and launched the Indica, India's first indigenously developed car. Under his reign, the group acquired VSNL, India's top international telecom service provider. He took Tata Consultancy Services public in 2004 and designed and launched the Nano, the world's cheapest car, in 2008. He led the acquisitions of Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, British luxury auto brands Jaguar and Land Rover and British tea firm Tetley. Also formed a joint venture between the Tata group and American International Group Inc.

(Interactive timeline: link.reuters.com/kuj79r )

(SOURCE: Tata group website, Reuters news)

(Reporting by Jui Chakravorty; editing By Bill Tarrant)

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