Cyrus Mistry removed as Tata Sons chief, Ratan Tata takes over

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OCtober 24, 2016

As corporate surprises go, this one will rank right there on top. Tata Sons, the holding company of India’s largest business group, said on Monday it had decided to replace Cyrus Mistry as chairman.

OCtober 24, 2016

As corporate surprises go, this one will rank right there on top. Tata Sons, the holding company of India’s largest business group, said on Monday it had decided to replace Cyrus Mistry as chairman.

The 78-year-old Ratan Tata is now part of the selection panel that has been asked to search the next chairman of Tata Sons. Photo: Reuters

Mistry is the son of Pallonji Mistry, who controls nearly 18% of the equity in Tata Sons directly and through trusts. That makes him the single largest individual shareholder.

“The board, in its wisdom and on the recommendation of the principal shareholders, decided that it will be in the long term interest of the group to replace Cyrus Mistry,” the spokesperson for Tata Trusts told HT over the phone from Mumbai. He was on Monday told to act as the spokesperson for the Tata Group. Tata trusts are the principal shareholders in Tata Sons, which is chaired by Ratan Tata.

A terse statement issued by the board did not give reasons only that Ratan Tata, chairman before Mistry, will hold the position for four months, and a search panel will look for a replacement for Mistry.

Tata is on the search panel, too. Its other members are Venu Srinivasan, who heads Chennai-based TVS; Amit Chandra, a trustee of several Tata trusts; Ronen Sen, former Indian ambassador to the United States; and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, who founded the famed Warwick Manufacturing Group in the United Kingdom.

There was no sign that such a move was brewing in this most conservative of business groups.

Mistry had taken charge in December 2012 amid much fanfare, the result of a long search by a panel headed by Ratan Tata, who ran the group for 21 years before making way for Mistry.

The group is known to have long-serving chairmen. What’s more, they do not lose their job, they retire. The shortest stint before Mistry’s was Nowroji Saklatwala’s six years that ended in 1938. JRD Tata served as chairman for 53 years.

In September, the Tata Group website published an in-house interview with Mistry, in which he spoke about his vision for the next 150 years. As it turns out, he is out in less than four.