Joined: 27 September 2006
Joined: 27 September 2006
The deal will affect thousands of Corus workers in Europe
Tata's bid for the European steelmaker, which was created from the merger of British Steel and Hoogovens, beat that of its Brazilian rival CSN.
Britain's Takeover Panel said Tata had won after offering 608p per share, valuing Corus at 5.75bn ($11.3bn).
Corus employs 47,300 people worldwide, including 24,000 in the UK at plants at Port Talbot, Sc**thorpe and Rotherham.
Shares in Corus jumped nearly 7% on the news in early trading in London.
India's Commerce Minister
Yet shares in Tata Steel closed down 11% on Wednesday, as investors worried about the deal's short term financial impact on the Indian firm.
Tata, which is based in Mumbai (Bombay), previously said its takeover would not lead to job losses in the first phase.
The takeover will create the world's fifth-largest steel group.
Tata Steel's owner Ratan Tata hailed the takeover as "a moment of great fulfilment for all in India".
"When we first bid for Corus, many thought it was an audacious move," he said at a press conference in India.
"Tata has a global scale now.
"This is the first step in showing that Indian industry can step outside its shores into an international market place as a global player."
India's Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath welcomed the deal and said: "It is a two-way street now. Not only India is seeking foreign investment, but Indian companies are emerging investors in other countries."
The two-way battle for the firm began in October when Tata tabled a 4.1bn bid for the group and, in December, the Corus board recommended a revised 4.7bn offer from Tata.
But, just hours later the board confirmed it had approved a 4.9bn, offer from Rio de Janeiro-based CSN.
Tata eventually outbid its Brazilian rivals.
Wider Indian group
Last year Corus was the ninth-largest steel producer in the world with 18.2 million tonnes of output.
It banked pre-tax profits of 580m on turnover of 10.14bn.
Tata Steel, part of the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, was last year ranked 56th in the list of steelmakers around the world with output of 5.3 million tonnes.The Tata Group - which owns Tetley tea and Daewoo cars - has operations in more than 50 countries.
Joined: 27 September 2006
Joined: 27 September 2006
By Tim Weber
Business editor, BBC News website
Microsoft has launched the latest version of its Windows operating system, called Vista. But can it inspire consumers?
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is passionate about Vista: "For the technology industry, it's a huge milestone."
The president of Microsoft International, Jean-Philippe Courtois, is equally impressed: "Vista is the biggest launch ever" in Microsoft's history, more important than Windows 95.
Considering the hype, it must be worrying for Microsoft that many technology experts believe that Vista is at best accomplished but not really a breakthrough.
Vista, they say, is not any better than OS X, the operating system of rival Apple.
Corporate IT bosses are not impressed either, surveys suggest. Some will move to Vista for security reasons, says George Colony, chief executive of technology consulting firm Forrester, but most will do so because Microsoft is forcing them.
While corporate users may have little choice, it's with consumers where Vista will have to prove its mettle. Here Microsoft has not just to capture the market, but also inspire it.
Only if Vista delivers its promise of managing the digital lifestyle will it become the central hub of consumers' connected world.
Success by default?
Let's make no mistake: Windows Vista will be a success. But it will happen almost by default.
Corporate IT administrators are tied into Microsoft's network architecture, while consumers will probably pick a PC because they trust brands such as HP, Dell or Sony and because PC manufacturers simply take up more shelf space than Apple's narrow product range.
"Very few consumers will choose to upgrade to Vista," says Mr Colony. "Nobody is choosing to install it, they will upgrade only by buying a new machine."
Forrester estimates that by the end of this year, Vista will have a 15% share of the North American consumer market, which amounts to about 12.2 million units. By 2011 it expects Vista to have 70% of the market, or just over 73 million installations.
Considering that Windows is one of Microsoft's two big profit engines (the other is the productivity software Office), executives at the company headquarters in Redmond, Washington, can probably relax.
But these numbers do not secure Microsoft's future in a rapidly evolving tech landscape.
The problem, says Mr Colony, is Microsoft's brand perception: A Forrester survey of 50,000 consumers suggests that Microsoft is the consumer brand with the highest number of installations, but also the company with the second-lowest approval rating among its customers, says Mr Colony.
'Vista is user-centric'
Vista is supposed to change that perception and "wow" computer users.
When you use Vista, "it's just not like using software anymore... it's more user-centric, less systems-centric," says Mr Gates, who is also the firm's chief software architect.
To make the right first impression, Microsoft has scheduled big launch events in 50 countries. In Paris, for example, fireworks will light the sky that will be larger than those at the start of the new millennium.
"This is about capturing the minds of the people," says Mr Courtois. "They have problems [with their computers], need help" and Vista is going to provide it.
The boss of Microsoft International tries to explain:
Microsoft has not left much to chance. To iron out bugs, some five million people have tested Vista over the past year or two.
In your living room
Microsoft's biggest challenge, however, will be for Windows to make the jump from the study into our living rooms.
Irritatingly for Microsoft executives, this make-or-break move is out of the company's control.
Windows is a platform; Microsoft's partners build on it by providing hardware and software.
If the industry develops and sells products with the right form factor, combining the beauty and simplicity of hi-fi equipment with the Vista operating system, Microsoft will sit at the top of our digital world.
Forrester's George Colony is dubious about Microsoft's chances of success: "Operating systems crash, they don't give you any pleasure," he says. "It's still too difficult to install and administer computers."
'Two sets of idiots'
So what about the long-awaited convergence between PCs and consumer electronics?
Niklas Zennstroem, the co-founder of internet telephony success Skype and backer of video-on-demand service Joost.com, believes that the "computerisation of television sets" is just a few years away.
Mr Colony is more sceptical: "You have two sets of idiots here, the PC idiots and the TV idiots," he says, and neither understands yet how to make convergence work.
So if Microsoft's hardware partners fail to deliver, the company has a problem.
Mr Courtois for his part points to "an incredible variety of form factors" in the pipeline, from media centres to what he calls "ultra-mobile PCs".
Why the rivals don't deliver
Microsoft's weakness, however, is also its biggest strength.
Rival Apple may grab the headlines (and the biggest share of the MP3 player market), but in the computer space it is puny.
The reason: Apple insists on controlling the whole package, from the operating system to the central hardware.
As a result, Apple lacks the breadth of hard- and software that attracts customers.
Apple may glow in the halo of its iconic iPods and gain kudos from the tech-savvy crowd. But so far, the shallowness of Apple's industrial ecosystem has made the firm's offering pricey and limited its success in the market place.
Microsoft's other rival, the open-source Linux operating system, has a similar problem.
Even though products like Ubuntu and Suse Linux show great promise, there are still issues with compatibility and ease of use.
But as Microsoft celebrates Vista, the company is already thinking about what comes next.
Consumers had to wait five years for the new operating system. A gap that long won't be allowed again, promises Mr Courtois.
But as it works on the next incarnation of Windows, Microsoft will have to face a profound shift in the world of software.
More and more companies are offering software online as a service. All that users need is a good browser.
And that could make operating systems somewhat irrelevant.
So why is Vista so important?
One of Vista's new features is that it shuts down in just two seconds.
Microsoft is hoping that its customers won't shut down Windows for good.
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