As reported by Economist, around four centuries ago, British capital started flowing into India, creating the East India Company, and laying the foundations of the empire. Now capital is flowing in the other direction. In the past ten years the Tata group—which ranges from steel and engineering to chemicals, telecoms and tea—has spent $15 billion buying up famous British firms. Tetley tea was followed by Corus (formerly British Steel) and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), maker of two of the most quintessentially British cars, and Brunner Mond, a founder of what was (until it went the way of all empires) Imperial Chemical Industries. As a result of these purchases, Tata is now Britain’s biggest industrial employer (see article).
To some extent this is merely the British chapter of a wider story: the rise of emerging-market giants. The number of companies from Brazil, India, China or Russia on the Financial Times 500 list trebled in 2006-08 from 20 to 62. Emerging-market champions are stamping their names on almost every area of business: Brazil’s Embraer in aircraft, China’s Huawei in telecoms and India’s Tata in just about everything, from cars and chemicals to consumer products and IT. In 2010 emerging-market firms accounted for a third of the world’s $2.4 trillion tally of mergers and acquisitions.