While the Tata Sons boardroom battle has not yet reached the courts, the two sides — Cyrus Mistry, who was ousted as chairman on October 24, and Tata Sons — continue to hit out at each other in the media.
Mistry, who has highlighted specific issues, putting out facts and figures to buttress them, on Tuesday refuted what it called “insinuations” the DoCoMo issue had been not handled in keeping with the Tata “culture and values”.
The statement from Mistry’s office noted “the suggestion that Ratan Tata and the trustees would not have approved of the manner in which the litigation was conducted is contrary to what transpired”.
There has been no statement from Tata Sons alleging that Mistry mishandled the proposed 26% stake sale by Japanese telecom major DoCoMo in Tata DoCoMo. However, press reports have suggested this could have been among the reasons for the Tata Sons board’s displeasure with Mistry and his subsequent removal.
Meanwhile, Ratan Tata sought to reassure group employees and is understood to have written to them saying the board believed it was necessary to remove Mistry “for the future success of the Tata group”.
Tata, who met CEOs of group companies in Bombay House last week, said he understood “a period of change like this can lead to a period of uncertainty”. The group, the said needs to focus on profits and market position and must not compare itself with the past. “The focus has to be on leading rather than following,” the letter reportedly read.
On the DoCoMo issue, Mistry’s office said the Tata Sons board had discussed the issue several times during which Mistry had stated all commitments, within the law, should be honoured.
“This stance is based on Tata Sons’ board view and was always consistent with the series of board meetings in which the DoCoMo issue was discussed,” the statement said. It added that all decisions on the matter had been collective decisions of the board and throughout the process, Ratan Tata and NA Soonawala, trustee, were kept informed and they participated in separate meetings held with Mistry.
“They also participated in the meeting with the legal counsel (who also happened to be a trustee of the Dorabji Tata Trust) and who represented Tatas in the litigation. At all times Ratan Tata and Soonawala concurred and approved the course of action adopted by Tatas and as advised by legal counsel,” the statement said.
While Cyrus Mistry has claimed he was “lame duck” chairman and that alternative power centres had been created in the group, a statement by Tata Sons released on October 27 said the board gave its chairman “complete autonomy to manage opportunities and challenges”.
Without elaborating on the subject, however, the release added “the tenure of the former Chairman was marked by repeated departures from the culture and ethos of the group”. Mistry, according to Tata Sons, had failed to address certain queries and concerns on the business. The trustees of the Tata Trusts were “increasingly getting concerned with the growing trust deficit with Mr. Mistry”, the release read.
Mistry, has subsequently, countered the allegations and also listed instances of how non-executive directors were called away in the midst of board meetings by Ratan Tata.