It’s Cyrus Mistry who will step into Ratan N Tata’s shoes to head the $73-billion Tata conglomerate. Much like the legendary JRD Tata, who believed that his protégé Ratan Tata was blessed with a modern mind, it would seem that Mistry’s youth and his closeness to the group tipped the scales in his favour.
On Wednesday, Mistry, 43, the younger son of Tata Sons’ largest individual shareholder Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, was appointed deputy chairman of Tata Sons, paving the way for his elevation when Ratan Tata retires. A statement from Tata Sons said he will work with Ratan Tata over the next year and take over when he retires in December 2012.
The move came as a surprise since Mistry was not believed to be in the reckoning. In fact, the appointment of Ratan Tata’s 54-year-old half brother Noel Tata as Tata International MD last August was interpreted as a move that would finally result in his leading the group. Noel Tata, also non-executive vice-chairman of Trent, had built up the group’s retail outfit into a profitable venture.
Among outsiders, the name of Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, had done the rounds.
Corporate circles interpreted Mistry’s selection as one that would certainly have had Ratan Tata’s blessings. They point out that though Mistry may not command much experience, his youth and familiarity with the group and his understanding of the group’s values would have given him an edge. Moreover, an ‘insider’, they point out would be more acceptable to the group’s numerous CEOs. On one occasion, Ratan Tata had said it was not enough to be part of the family to become group chairman.
In a statement, Ratan Tata said: “The appointment of Mr Cyrus P Mistry as deputy chairman is a good and far-sighted choice. He has been on the board of Tata Sons since August 2006 and I have been impressed with the quality and calibre of his participation, his astute observations and his humility.”
“He is intelligent and qualified to take on the responsibility being offered and I will be committed to working with him