Some clues to the spends can be found in the business clusters that the Tata Group intends to focus onconsumer and retail, financial services, defence and aerospace, and realty and infrastructureall of which can turn out to be big capital guzzlers depending on how quickly one wants to scale up. Moreover, with the exception of Tata Consultancy Services, all the groups other existing businesses will need funds periodically.
A glance at Mistrys blueprint for 2015 suggests that, by then, there will be few sectors the group will not have a presence in; the two large spaces that come to mind are oil & gas and pharmaceuticals, given the banking foray is likely to be revisited if the regulations are eased.
If that seems like the group is spreading itself too thin and going against the traditional wisdom of sticking to one's knitting, it is also true a developing country like India presents myriad opportunities. For instance, given its strengths in engineering, it would be a pity if the group didnt play the defence sectordefence procurement is projected to grow from $16 billion right now to $80 billion by 2025.
One is less sure about banking, which is a highly competitive space in which differentiation isnt easy, but the choice of e-commerce can be explained by the existing presence in retailboth in the multi-brand and cash & carry segments.
While it must be tempting to participate in the growth potential in a host of segments, many of which fetch attractive margins, there clearly cannot be a repeat of Tata Teleservices and the conservative Mistry would be mindful of that as he would not like to fritter away resources on expensive acquisitions.
Given the groups ability to attract both talent and capital, growing businesses will not be an issue.
Which is why the Tata Group chairman can afford to take his eye off stock prices; where there are profits, market capitalisation will follow.