Niira Radia exits communication consultancy biz

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 31 2011, 06:14am hrs
Niira Radia, chairperson of public relations (PR) outfits Vaishnavi Corporate Communications and Neucom Consulting, which handled the PR accounts of the Tata Group and Reliance Industries (RIL), respectively, said on Sunday she had decided to exit the business. Radia was in the media glare last year following her alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum scam and after her conversations with several persons in power, including the then communications minister A Raja, and Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, became public.

In a statement to the media, Radia said, To give precedence to my personal priorities of family and health, I have decided against renewing any client mandates and to exit the business of communications consultancy. She added: it is a painful decision which has been taken after much consideration and consultation with my family, doctors, clients and colleagues.

Put together, both the Tata Group and RIL contributed much of the revenue of the privately-held Vaishnavi Group, which employs 200 people. In an e-mailed statement to employees, Radia said that around 30 employees will move on to RIL as part of RILs internal communications team. There was no mention whether the Tata Group would absorb anyone, although some employees of Vaishnavi have, over the last two to three years, moved on to become part of the Tata Groups internal communications team for group companies. A team, steered by some senior staff from Vaishnavi, will take charge of the transition process and also the present discussions with various groups on probable opportunities for her existing staff, Radia added.

An employee of the Vaishnavi Group, who did not wish to be identified, said the communication from Radia went to the employees on Sunday, and both the Tata and RIL accounts will cease to operate starting Monday. Vaishnavi has other clients too, although their contribution to its revenues is relatively small.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Tata Sons, the Tata Group holding company, said it has appointed Rediffusion, led by Arun Nanda, to manage the public relations and public affairs of the Tata Group from November 1, 2011. This follows the expiry of the contract with Vaishnavi Corporate Communications on October 31, 2011, Christabelle Noronha, chief, group corporate affairs, said.

I thank our key clients for their understanding and mutual agreement to bring closure to this decision, Radia said in her letter to staff. I am also grateful to them for their support in taking my decision to its logical conclusion, offering assistance in mitigating the damages and thereby fulfilling all our existing contractual commitments.

In an e-mailed statement, Ratan Tata said, The Tata Group respects the personal wishes of Ms Niira Radia in not renewing any client mandates. She has built Vaishnavi from scratch into the company it is today, often subordinating her personal and family interests in favour of her clients priorities. He added that Vaishnavi has had the PR mandate of the Tata Group since 2001 during which period Vaishnavi contributed significantly to the building of the Tata Brand. Their engagement with the Group has been ethical and satisfactory.

Meanwhile, in another e-mailed statement, a Reliance Industries spokesperson said, We regret the decision of Ms Niira Radia to discontinue her association with the business of communications consultancy and not renew any of her client mandates.

The spokesperson added: We have enjoyed a professional and fulfilling relationship with Ms Radia and her team over the last three years. Ms Radias commitment has been very impressive and she has always led her team in a manner that tactical developments do not lead to a de-focus on the strategic issues.

However, we do appreciate and respect her wishes for a compelling need to focus on her family and personal issues, the spokesperson added.

Referring to the tapes controversy, Radia said that the entire experience took a severe toll on her health and family. In line with this decision, all companies in the Group will be stopping its operations with immediate effect, she said in a media statement.