U.S. Markets closed

Ousted Tata Chairman Says He Doesn’t Want His Old Job Back

Anirban Nag

(Bloomberg) -- Cyrus Mistry, the former head of Tata Sons Ltd. will not seek to return as chairman of India’s biggest conglomerate despite winning a court case against his ouster.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, last month, also ordered Mistry to be reinstated as director of Tata companies. Mistry in an emailed statement on Sunday said he will not seek to be a director on group firms such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Tata Teleservices Ltd. or Tata Industries Ltd. The executive, whose family owns about 18% of Tata Sons, will instead seek more rights for minority shareholders in the group, he said.

“I will however vigorously pursue all options to protect our rights as a minority shareholder, including that of resuming the thirty-year history of a seat at the board of Tata Sons,” Mistry said in the statement. “It is time the group’s management introspects and reflects on its conduct as it embarks on future actions.”

Mistry’s latest comments may come as a relief for Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of the conglomerate, whose actions to fire Mistry, the court said, were “oppressive.” Ratan Tata and a host of Tata group companies filed petitions on Friday in India’s Supreme Court seeking to quash the tribunal’s order to rehire Mistry. The court last month also restrained Ratan Tata from taking any decision that would require a majority decision by Tata Sons’ board.

Mistry’s “statement opens an avenue for a possible resolution by avoiding a forced leadership change and thereby avoiding a larger crisis,” said Mathew Antony, managing partner of Aditya Consulting, an advisory firm. “It can also be construed as a sharp business move to protect the Shapoorji Palloonji investments in the group by retaining a directorship on Tata Sons board and letting go of all other demands.”

Tata Sons is the holding company of the group that also owns the luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The turmoil couldn’t come at a worse time for the $110 billion conglomerate. It comes just as the group contends with a crisis at its British unit, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc -- one of the crown jewels of Ratan Tata’s buying spree -- and an economic slowdown at home that’s damped demand for wares from steel to Tetley teas.

Mistry was ousted as chairman of Tata Sons in October 2016, about four years after he had taken over the position from Ratan Tata. He turned to the National Company Law Tribunal to overturn the dismissal and, following an unfavorable ruling, appealed seeking to expunge disparaging remarks against him in the original order.

--With assistance from P R Sanjai.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anirban Nag in Mumbai at anag8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Arijit Ghosh

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.