Anil Sardana has resigned as the CEO and managing director of Tata Power for personal reasons. In a regulatory filing, Tata Power said, “Anil Sardana has submitted his resignation as the CEO and Managing Director of the company and as Director of the company for personal reasons. The Board has taken on record his resignation which will be effective from the close of the business hours on April 30, 2018”. Although the company did not elaborate on the reason for Sardana’s resignation, industry people said the decision was expected. Cyrus Mistry’s dismissal as chairman of Tata Sons was also attributed, among other factors, to Tata Power’s acquisition of Welspun Renewable Energy without a complete buy-in from the Tata Sons board, it has been claimed by Tata Sons. Ratan Tata is reported to have made a public statement that the Welspun transaction was the “last straw”, suggesting that the trustees of Tata Trusts were not kept informed about the transaction. However, this opinion was countered by Mistry, stating that the “trustees were well informed and Anil Sardana had made a detailed presentation to the Tata Sons board. The discussion covered all aspects of the transaction including the structure and the Tata Sons board unanimously approved the transaction,” Mistry had said in a press release earlier.
According to Arvind Tembhurne, an investment banker based in Mumbai, the `10,000-crore Welspun Renewable deal for 1,140 MW of wind and solar assets was at a premium of 10-15%.“The solar and wind tariffs have fallen in the last two years and if the company could have waited for eight to ten months, they would have got renewable assets at a discounted price. Even today around 2,000 MW of assets are up for sale,” the investment banker said. However, he conceded that it was always easier to evaluate a deal in hindsight.
Analysts, however, are broadly supportive of the deal in terms of a business move. “Company’s renewable energy portfolio is seeing improved profitability, including Welspun acquisition, with some debt refinancing upside still available. All renewable assets (Rs 2.82 billion profit in H1FY18 v/s Rs 2.1 billion profit in FY17) are being consolidated in its subsidiary Tata Power Renewable Energy with value unlocking plans moving ahead,” said Lavina Quadros, senior analyst with Jefferies, in a report.
The appointment of Banamali Agarwala as president of infrastructure, defence and aerospace at Tata Sons in October 2017 could also have prompted the move, suggested an industry peer. The Tata group, as per reports, plans to divide its business into five verticals, of which one is infrastructure and defence, to be headed by Agarwala. Following the realignment, it was expected that Sardana will have to report to Agarwala, who in his previous stint with Tata Power served under Sardana.
Sardana, an electrical engineer from Delhi College of Engineering and a Tata veteran of more than a decade, has over three decades of experience in the power and infrastructure sector.