Tata’s JLR invests in Uber rival Lyft for driverless cars

InMotion’s investment in Lyft makes India’s Tata Group an indirect shareholder

Company News :Tata Motors-owned British luxury carmakr Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has invested $25 million in US ride-hailing company Lyft as part of a partnership that includes development and testing of autonomous cars.

The investment in Uber‘s chief rival Lyft was done through InMotion Ventures, the venture capital arm of JLR. This was part of the $600-million funding round the ride-hailing firm closed in April at a valuation of $7.5 billion.

In a statement, InMotion said that the innovation would help Lyft expand by supplying its drivers with fleets of Jaguar and Land Rover cars. However, more importantly, it said that the partnership would be used to further its research and development in mobility services, including autonomous cars.

“Personal mobility and smart transportation is evolving. This new collaborative venture will provide a real-world platform, helping us develop our connected and autonomous services,” VentureBeat quoted Sebastian Peck, Managing Director at InMotion.

In May, Lyft announced its partnership with Google’s self-driving vehicle spinoff, Waymo to work on developing new autonomous car technologies. The company’s focus on autonomous cars comes at a time when its rival Uber is in the midst of a crisis that could see founder Travis Kalanick taking leave, temporarily.

One of Uber’s biggest headaches right now is a lawsuit filed by Waymo, accusing Anthony Levandowski- a former Waymo employee who founded self-driving truck start-up Otto – of stealing its IP(Internet Protocol). Otto was bought out by Uber in August last year and while the company fired Levandowski recently, it is still being investigated for fraud.

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Cyrus Mistry gives up the battle but set for a bigger war with Tatas

After a bitter eight-week boardroom battle against Ratan Tata’s “illegal coup”, ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry on Monday quit from the boards of six listed companies, including Tata Motors and Indian Hotels. He vowed to shift his fight to a “larger platform” as the “coercive action taken by Tatas against various stakeholders was making him uneasy”.

In an interview to Business Standard, Mistry promised to take his fight against the Tatas to a legal forum but did not give details. “In the past eight weeks, I saw a lot of coercive action from the Tatas towards shareholders, debt holders and employees, which is making all the three uncomfortable. In various representations to shareholders, I had said it was not about me or about my position. My resignation proves that,” Mistry said.

He would, however, continue to remain a director on the board of Tata Sons. The announcement of Mistry’s resignation came after he attended a “routine” Tata Sons board meeting during the day. Monday’s board meeting brought Mistry and his former mentor, Tata, in the same room for the first time (since October 24) but they did not speak to each other, according to sources.

“The interests of employees, shareholders and other stakeholders of the Tata group would be better served by (me) moving away from the forum of extraordinary general meetings (EGMs),” Mistry said in a two-page letter. “But, the time has come to take matters to their logical conclusion. I will work on protecting the interests of the Tata group and realising the vision of our founder Jamsetji Tata, until my last breath,” he added.

“Mistry can move the National Company Law Tribunal against Tata Sons for oppression of small shareholders. He can also move the Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) if he has information that the Trusts had indulged in inside-trading or did not follow corporate governance norms,” said R S Loona, a Mumbai-based corporate lawyer. (more)

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