The shock removal of Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons has put the spotlight on the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG), the single largest stake holder in the company outside the Tatas.
Founded in 1865 as Littlewood Pallonji, the Group’s first projects was construction of pavements in Mumbai. The Group has grown since then to emerge as a pioneer in the field of engineering and construction making it a $4.2 billion company. The Group is currently steered by Pallonji Mistry as chairman. His sons are Cyrus and Shapoor.
The association with Tatas began in 1935, when Shapoorji Pallonji bought a company called FE Dinshaw and Co., which had 12.5% stake in Tata Sons.
Over the years this stake has increased. At present, SPG through Sterling Investment Corporation and Cyrus Investments hold 9.2% stake each in Tata Sons. In his personal capacity Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry holds 0.03%.
Simply put, SPG holds the largest stake in Tata Sons outside the family, which would lead many to believe that the company would have a say on the affairs of the latter. But the sudden ouster of Cyrus Mistry has the grapevine buzzing about a possible feud between the Mistrys and the Tatas.
Pallonji Mistry, the fifth riches Indian according Forbes, has for long held the title of “The Phantom of Bombay House” for his influence at Tata’s storied colonial headquarters in south Mumbai. He gave up his seat on Tata Sons board in 2006 to make room for Cyrus.
The SPG group is involved in businesses ranging from textiles to real estate, hospitality to business automation. The major companies under SPG group include Shapoorji Pallonji Engineering and Construction, Afcons Infrastructure, Forbes Textiles, Gokak Textiles, Eureka Forbes, Forbes and Co, SP Construction Materials Group, SP Real Estate and Next Gen etc.
Apart from their business interests in engineering and construction, the world of cinema also caught their fancy. Pallonji Mistry was one of the financier of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, the 1960 historical drama directed by K.Asif. But the arduous process of making this film, that took over 12 years, perhaps put the Group off cinema production.