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Inside Ratan Tata's vehicle for investment

Far from public glare, company is investing in tech firms and providing consultancy

Abhineet Kumar  |  Mumbai 

The registered address of RNT Associates is 12, Bakhtavar, Mumbai. If that doesn't ring a bell, this surely will: The firm was registered by Ratan Tata in 2009, three years before he retired as chairman of Tata Sons.

The only other director in the firm is Tata's long-time lieutenant R K Krishna Kumar, who holds a token stake, according to registration documents sourced from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

These days, RNT Associates is keeping Tata really busy (he is also busy working for the Tata trusts, of which he is chairman), going by the investments he has made in his personal capacity in two e-commerce firms - Snapdeal and Bluestone - in the past two weeks. The firm's objective, the documents show, is "acquiring technology and allied services", which perhaps explains the investments in these two firms. But more diversified action will surely follow, as the firm also wants to "undertake consultancy in the field of international collaborations and mergers and acquisitions".

Though the investment amounts aren't known, the firms he has invested in are on cloud nine. "Mr Tata's passion for technology is well known and that is the driving force behind these investments," says K Ganesh, an entrepreneur and co-promoter of online jewellery retailing firm Bluestone. About a month before the deal last week, Ganesh, along with founder and chief executive Gaurav Singh Kushwaha, made multiple visits to Tata's One Forbes office here.

"His understanding of technology is very sharp and he will continue to play an active advisory role in Bluestone's growth," said Ganesh. Under Tata's leadership, software exporter Tata Consultancy Services became India's most valued company. Tata had also played a crucial role in Titan's successful expansion from the watch business into jewellery.

Snapdeal, too, had announced Tata's investment in the company, without disclosing the value of the stake.

"An investment by a legendary and respected figure such as Mr Tata is an excellent validation of our focused strategy on building a long-term enterprise and marks the start of a very important phase for the company," said Kunal Bahl, founder and chief executive, Snapdeal.

Tata joins a growing number of business icons investing in e-tailers. Earlier, Wipro Chairman Azim Premzi had invested in Myntra and Snapdeal, through his family office PremjiInvest. N R Narayana Murthy, chairman emeritus of Infosys, had, through his private investment firm, Catamaran Ventures, invested in Amazon.

According to the memorandum of association of RNT Associates, the authorised capital of the firm is a mere Rs 50 crore, which means its activities will be heavily tilted towards the advisory role it seeks to play in client-

First Published: Sat, September 13 2014. 00:39 IST