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21. October 2008

India - Hindujas set to rename Ashok Leyland

Ashok Leyland, the 53-year old brand synonymous with commercial and public transport in the country, will soon see a name change, reflecting its ownership by the Hinduja Group. The Hindujas, who took over Ashok Leyland in 1987, is planning to rename the company Hinduja Leyland, in sync with the Group’s strategy to give a common brand identity to various companies within the group, spanning automotive to media.

The brand change framework has been created by branding strategist Martin Lindstrom, while D’Cell, part of Lowe Lintas, will be responsible for creating the identity manual and further implementation. Also on the cards is a new brand logo for the Hinduja group, which according to sources, is being worked upon by a London-based creative agency. When contacted, Jayaram Ramanathan, vice president, corporate communications of the Hinduja Group, refused to comment on the development.

During a recent interaction, SP Hinduja, chairman of the group, had said thatthe group is working on revealing a new logo that willreflect the new directions taken by it.

Group company HTMT Global Solutions will also see a name change, but IndusInd bank may not see a name change so soon.

The current business activities of the group in India comprise Ashok Leyland, Hinduja Foundries (erstwhile Ennore Foundries), the largest jobbing foundry in Asia, Gulf Oil, a major supplier of performance products for the auto industry, industrial explosives and detonators, IndusInd Bank, HTMT Global Solutions, a BPO company, and Hinduja Ventures, a large cable operator and an incubator of new businesses of the group like healthcare delivery, insurance and infrastructure.

The present day Ashok Leyland traces its history to 1948, when the then prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru persuaded Raghunandan Saran, an industrialist, to enter the automotive manufacturing segment.

In 1948, Ashok Motors was set up in Madras (now Chennai) to assemble Austin cars. It started commercial vehicle production under the name Ashok Leyland in 1955 after British Leyland took an equity participation in the company. The company has put over 5,00,000 vehicles on India roads.

In 1987, the overseas holding by Land Rover Leyland was taken over by a joint venture between the Hinduja Group and Iveco of Italy, a Fiat group company. In 2006, the Hindujas bought out the 15% indirect stake of Iveco in Ashok Leyland Ltd.

The Hindujas have big plans for their automotive division, under the holding company, the UK-headquartered Hinduja Automotive. In a tie-up with Nissan of Japan, Ashok Leyland is entering the light commercial vehicles (LCVs) segment, where it did not have a presence in.

Hinduja Foundries is targeting a turnover of $1 billion by 2010, and is looking to acquire foundry companies in Europe.

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