Highlighting major differences in the Board of Tata Chemicals, Bhaskar Bhat, after quitting as director today, said he asked Cyrus Mistry to step down as Chairman as his continuance posed ‘great risk’ to the firm in the wake of loss of confidence in him by promoter Tata Sons.
Bhat, who hit out at the independent directors who “totally ignored” his views in a statement that was issued yesterday, also raised questions of propriety, credibility, legitimacy of Mistry continuing as Chairman of Tata Chemicals.
Stating that things changed after Tata Sons board asked Mistry to step down from its Chairmanship, Bhat told PTI: “Without going into legality, I felt that rupture, loss of confidence in the Chairman would significantly impact Tata Chemicals. In many ways there are risks.”
Offering a different version to the statement issued by independent directors of the company yesterday, he said when the confidence in the Chairman is lost, “the first thing I said in the last board meeting was that the Chairman of Tata Chemicals should step down. Because the risks are big…I requested him to step down and instead ask independent director to chair the meeting.”
When asked what was the main concern he had, Bhat said: “The rupture of the relationship between the Chairman of Tata Sons and the Chairman of Tata Chemicals. The rupture, I am talking about is legal rupture. We can pretend nothing has happened but finally, his discontinuance happened because of loss of confidence.”
Reiterating that he was not questioning the competence of Mistry to the Tata Chemicals board, Bhat said: “The point is the risk when Tata Sons, promoter of Tata Chemical, has acted in a certain way, then to protect the risk of this company it is my job to highlight the risk.”
Tata Sons holds 19.35 per cent stake in Tata Chemicals.
While insisting that he had the greatest regard for Mistry, Bhat said: “I am talking about the propriety of his (Mistry) being chairman, the credibility and the legitimacy.”
He said the board of directors in their meeting did not discuss how to address that risk.
Questioning whether the statement of the independent directors was necessary at all, he said: “That statement, to me, despite the discussions did not reflect my views. I am not saying that views of another director, who is not an independent director, should be incorporated in the independent director’s view.”
Bhat further said: “Since there was such a big difference between what they put out in public about their views and that my views did not count, therefore, I no longer count for anything in that board. So I quit.”