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Tata chief stands down

Moving on: Tata Motors CEO Carl-Peter Forster resigned his post last week, citing “unavoidable personal circumstances”.

JLR loses top man as British executive cites ‘unavoidable personal circumstances’

12 Sep 2011

THE CEO and managing director of Indian car-maker Tata Motors, Carl-Peter Forster – who also looks after the fortunes of the prestigious Jaguar and Land Rover brands – resigned suddenly last week after only 18 months in the job, citing “unavoidable personal circumstances”.

Tata said on Friday that the 57-year-old London-born former General Motors Europe president had ceased working for the company “with immediate effect”, but will continue to serve on the Tata board as a non-executive member.

Mr Forster’s exit comes as the Tata group continues to search for a successor to Ratan Tata, who is set to retire soon as chairman of the sprawling conglomerate. Reports suggest that search is taking longer than planned.

“I deeply regret that my personal circumstances make it difficult for me to continue to perform the challenging duties of managing the thriving global activities of the Tata Motors Group with its main activities in India and the UK and increasingly in additional overseas markets,” Mr Forster said in a written statement.

“I am glad to continue my association with Tata Motors.” A 25-year veteran of the auto industry, Mr Forster joined Tata in February 2010 following the shock departure of Jaguar Land Rover chief executive David Smith.

Three months earlier, Mr Forster had stood down as GM Europe president and Opel/Vauxhall chairman, criticising GM’s American management for reversing a decision to sell Opel and Vauxhall to Canadian cars parts giant Magna International and Russian partner Sberbank.

Prior to joining GM in 2001, Mr Forster spent 13 years with BMW in a variety of roles, including managing director of BMW South Africa. He was also on the managing board of BMW, responsible for manufacturing.

Having turned around the fortunes of the money-losing Jaguar Land Rover unit, which Tata bought from Ford in 2008 for $US2.3 billion ($A2.2b), Mr Forster’s sudden departure leaves the Indian company in an urgent search for a replacement before any momentum is lost.

Mr Tata said the company’s managing director of India Operations, Prakash Telang, and the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Ralf Speth, will represent their respective operations on the Tata board.

“The board respects Carl-Peter’s personal circumstances that led to this move,” said Mr Tata.

“We would like to thank him for his contributions to the successful development of our company in his role as Group CEO and MD. We are looking forward to continue working with him as a non-executive member of the board.”

Last month, Tata Motors posted flat profit in its fiscal first quarter, falling short of estimates as higher costs squeezed margins, and said rising interest rates in Asia’s third-largest economy were a matter of concern.

Sales of the company’s Nano micro car, claimed to be the world’s cheapest car, are said to have fallen well short of expectations in India.

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