The Tata group on Friday sought an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to oust former chairman Cyrus Mistry and independent director Nusli Wadia from the boards of three companies, intensifying one of the most bitter corporate battles in India in recent times.
The move to remove Wadia started after the outspoken industrialist participated in a show of support for Mistry, who was sacked as chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the $103-billion salt-to-software business empire.
On Thursday, the Tatas removed Mistry as chairman of TCS, the group’s most profitable company.
Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals on Friday informed the stock exchanges that they have received notices from Tata Sons for the removal of Mistry as chairman and Wadia as independent director from their respective boards.
The voting right of Tata Sons in Tata Motors was mentioned in a regulatory filing as 26.51%. The figures for Tata Steel were not mentioned, although data from BSE says the promoter owns 31.35%.
Wadia, chairman of Bombay Dyeing and Britannia Industries, was long known as a friend of group patriarch Ratan Tata, who came out of retirement to temporarily take over as group chairman.
Analysts said that after Wadia’s show of support for Mistry at a Tata Chemicals board meet on November 10, the Tatas may have initiated the move to quell any possibility of a similar backing in Tata Steel and Tata Motors.
Tata Steel’s board meet on Friday was a lengthy five-hour session but the steelmaker did not say anything beyond the note to the exchanges on removing Mistry and Wadia.
It also emerged that the Tata Group hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) had set up an independent committee in July to inquire into allegations of sexual harassment by an ex-employee against its CEO Rakesh Sarna.
“The company has a strict code of conduct under which an independent committee has been set up to inquire into an issue received from an ex-employee,” an IHCL spokesperson said in an emailed response.
A statement from Mistry’s office on Friday confirmed he had been approached by an employee complaining of harassment. “Mr Mistry set aside time to meet with her and assured her that the Tata Group stands fully committed to support her,” the statement said.
The employee was offered an alternative position but left the group, the statement said, adding that Mistry set up an investigation and a review of practices across the group.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI)