Ratan Tata tops Cyrus Mistry in tussle, after Tata Sons picks N Chandrasekaran as new chairman

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New Delhi | Updated: January 12, 2017 9:09 PM

The $100 bn Tata Group has named N Chandrasekaran, 53, as the new Chairman of holding company Tata Sons today after a massive tussle for supremacy launched by veteran Ratan Tata against former chief Cyrus Mistry.

The culmination of the fight is nowhere near since Mistry has vowed retribution, but Tata Sons has a new head and the group can now throw off the shackles that the spat has put the group in. (File Photo)The culmination of the fight is nowhere near since Mistry has vowed retribution, but Tata Sons has a new head and the group can now throw off the shackles that the spat has put the group in. (File Photo)

The $100 bn Tata Group has named N Chandrasekaran, 53, as the new Chairman of holding company Tata Sons today after a massive tussle for supremacy launched by veteran Ratan Tata against former chief Cyrus Mistry. The culmination of the fight is nowhere near its end since Mistry has vowed retribution, but Tata Sons has a new head and the group can now throw off the shackles that the spat has put the group in. Chandrasekaran was heading the tremendously successful Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and to put things in perspective about how important it is in the grand scheme of things is its market capitalisation of $67 bn. In its official reaction, Tata Sons said, “Believe he (Natarajan Chandrasekaran) will inspire Tata group to realise its potential acting as leaders in respective businesses.”

Also Read: Non-manager Chandrasekaran built TCS into India’s most valuable company and more than tripled the revenue

What the anointment of Chandrasekaran indicates is that the Tata group is now officially under Ratan Tata suzerainty. Cyrus Mistry has not been able to stop the changing of the guard at Tata Sons despite his family Shapoorji Pallonji group being the largest stakeholder in the Tata group. In fact, the writing was clear on the wall much earlier as hardly any group company protested the axing of Mistry from their boards and the entire process from removal of Mistry, the bowing out of Ratan Tata from interim post culminated with the anointment of Chandrasekaran. Game, set and match Ratan Tata.

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The entire episode also indicates that as far as corporate power is concerned, Ratan Tata retains his touch as the most incisive of leaders who, when the policy line laid down by him is not followed, cracks down fiercely, but only after he has researched and planned the process step after step. While this boded ill for Mistry, it also sends a heads-up message to Chandrasekaran. If the message is lost somewhere in translation, Chandra may not even have the power to put up the kind of fight that Cyrus did. Will he pay heed? Since he has lasted so long at TCS, it is clear that Chandra is well versed in Tata politics and would know which buttons not to push at his plush corner office at Bombay House.

That Chandra recognises the ‘threat’ was clear from his comments in a press conference. Ratan Tata is partial to ensuring the Tata group keeps its image as an organisation that is ‘clean as a whistle’ as far as its reputation is concerned and that it projects an image that is totally tilted towards serving society honestly rather than one driven by the profit motive. Seemingly bowing to this ‘demand’ Chandra said, “Tata Sons has been doing a magnificent job ‘very quietly’ that has benefitted society in so many ways.” He went on put the same in words by saying, “I would like to thank Ratan Tata for putting his faith and trust in me to lead this group that has rich heritage.” And what should be the cherry on top was his comment about, “The common man always says Tata toh humaari company hai.”

Nevertheless, Big Brother will be watching.

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