Ratan Tata, who returned this week to the helm of India’s largest conglomerate, is seeking a partner that could buy out the Tata Sons Ltd. stake held by the family of ousted Chairman Cyrus Mistry, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Tata family trusts have reached out to sovereign wealth funds and other long-term investors to gauge their interest in purchasing the Mistry family’s stake if it became available, according to the people. The trusts held preliminary talks with potential buyers of the about 18 percent Tata Sons stake as they prepare for a number of possible scenarios, the people said. Mistry’s family doesn’t currently plan to sell its holdings, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
The family trusts wants to ensure that if Mistry’s family later decides to sell its stake in the Tata Group holding company, the new investor will be a friendly party that shares their long-term vision, according to the people. Tata Sons owns more than $65 billion worth of listed company shares, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
On Monday, Tata Group’s holding company abruptly ousted Mistry as chairman and replaced him with his 78-year-old predecessor Ratan Tata, a scion of the founding family. The rift, which had been brewing for months, signals an end to Mistry’s push to bring more fiscal prudence to the coffee-to-cars conglomerate after a string of global acquisitions.
The Tata trusts, which currently own about 66 percent of Tata Sons, have also been drafting plans for how to raise funds if they were to make an offer for the Mistry family stake themselves, one of the people said. The plans could involve the Tata trusts paring holdings in various operating companies to be able to afford the purchase, according to the person.
Mistry is still considering his next steps and plans to make a decision on his response to the ouster in the next couple of weeks, another person said.
A spokesman for Tata Sons declined to comment and a representative for the Mistry family’s holding company, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, declined to comment.
Tata Sons owns major stakes in Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Asia’s largest provider of software services, and Tata Motors Ltd., the producer of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. It also controls Indian Hotels Co., the luxury hospitality company that operates New York’s Pierre hotel, as well as steelmaking operations, the Tetley tea brand and a power producer.