India’s Tata Sons has issued a strong rebuttal to a claim of a $50 million gift to the prestigious Harvard Business School, terming the US media report “false, disparaging and defamatory” and demanded an apology. The holding company of the Tata Group, Tata Sons has raised strong objections to a May 21 article titled ‘Harvard Business School’s Ignominious Gift from Tata Trusts’ in The Daily Caller, a conservative American news and opinion website. Tata Sons has said that the “article is replete with false and inaccurate statements of fact and is defamatory to Tata Sons Ltd, its directors, its Chairman Emeritus Ratan N Tata, and all of them enjoy an enormous amount of goodwill and respect globally.”
Tata Sons has formally written to The Daily Caller, giving a detailed and point-by-point rebuttal of the “several errors” and “blatantly false statements” in the article and demanded an apology and that the website take down the article. The article is authored by Alan Beard, who according to his affiliation at the end of the article is managing director of Washington-based financial advisory firm Interlink Capital Strategies and a former adjunct professor at Georgetown University. “…Given that the article is replete with incorrect, disparaging and defamatory statements and insinuations, we behove The Daily Caller to take immediate corrective steps to take down the article and publish an apology. We also call upon The Daily Caller to disclose all the materials relied upon by it for the purpose of publishing the article,” Tata Sons said.
Tata Sons said the “reputational damage and harm” caused by the article is “irreparable” and the group “continues to explore” its remedies. In the Daily Caller article, Beard refers to the 50 million dollar gift to Harvard Business School in 2010 from Tata Trusts and Companies, saying that the institution accepted “questionable funds that go against every tenet of good governance.” The article also questioned the use of the funds to construct Tata Hall at Harvard, saying “public money has apparently been misdirected to the most privileged and wealthy in the world.”
Tata Sons strongly rejected these assertions in the letter to The Daily Caller, saying the gift of USD 50 million to Harvard Business School was collectively made by the Tata Companies, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Tata Education and Development Trust. “It is untrue that the Tata Trusts had alone made the gift of USD 50 million.” Tata Sons also strongly rejected the claim made in the article that the USD 50 million gift agreement was “brokered” between HBS Dean Nitin Nohria and Ratan Tata. Tata Sons said that during his service on the Board, in 2008, Ratan Tata was approached by its former Dean Jay Light to consider a gift to HBS to build a new executive education building.
“Nitin Nohria had no involvement whatsoever in these discussions and it is a false statement that the gift was brokered between him and Tata,” Tata Sons said. Tata Sons also asserted that it was “incorrect and false” to allege that public money had been “misdirected.” “To state that funds were ‘taken’ from ‘poor Indians’ is not only false, but reckless reporting. It is unfortunate that no details of the enormous philanthropic work carried out by the Tata Trusts have even been reported.”
The article also noted that Nohria, as non-executive director on Tata Sons Board, had voted to out former Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry. Rejecting this, Tata Sons said Mistry had been removed as he had lost the confidence of “7 out of 9 directors” of Tata Sons. “From the false statements in the article, it is now apparent that the article is motivated, aimed to malign the reputation of Tata Sons, its directors and Tata and probably that’s the reason for irresponsibly reporting and intentionally not approaching Tata Sons or Tata for the correct facts,” Tata Sons said.
Responding to a reference in the article that in the two months following Mistry’s replacement as Executive Chairman, the value of Tata’s listed companies dropped by USD 17 billion, Tata Sons said that the article failed to add that Mistry had, a day after being removed, written a “vitriolic email to the directors of Tata Sons wherein he made several unsubstantiated and false allegations” in relation to Tata Sons and other companies in the Tata group.
“The article is irresponsible, lacking in thorough investigation and openly partisan,” Tata Sons said adding that the article’s “one-sided presentation, motivated and malicious insinuations are plainly visible and buttressed by the fact that neither the Daily Caller nor the article’s author approached the Tata Group for any comment and response prior to publication,” Tata Sons said.