Cyrus Mistry, who was part of the panel tasked to find a successor to Ratan Tata for heading the over USD 100 billion Tata Group, had himself become a surprise selection only to see his tenure cut short abruptly today within four years — the shortest at the conglomerate.
The 78-year-old Tata is now part of the selection panel that has been asked to search the next Chairman of Tata Sons Ltd, the group’s main holding company, within next four months and he would also serve as interim chairman in this period.
A low-profile man to the extent of being reclusive, Mistry, now 48, was a surprise choice to succeed Tata, who retired on December 29, 2012 as Chairman of the one of country’s oldest business empires.
The only second non-Tata to take charge of the group after Nowroji Saklatvala in 1932, Mistry by virtue of his age came in with a lot of promise, specially of continuity when he became Chairman of Tata Sons — the promoter of the major operating Tata companies at the age of 44.
However, in nearly four years since he took over the reins of the salt-to-software conglomerate, Mistry had to face many challenges in both domestic and global markets as many of the group companies faced headwinds.
He undertook a strategy of divesting assets in contrast to what his successor did.
Significant among them is the group’s steel business, specially Tata Steel Europe. Earlier this year, the company had completed selling of the European long products business that three units the UK as well as a mill in France to Greybull Capital.
It had also announced plans to sell its UK operations after years of losses, although the company is yet to finalise the sale.