In a keenly watched corporate ritual marking the exit of iconic chairman Ratan Tata as head of the Tata group, the board of its holding company, Tata Sons Ltd, on Tuesday formally announced that 44-year-old Cyrus Pallonji Mistry would take over as his successor.
Mistry will take over as the chairman of the $100-billion ( Rs. 550,000 crore) salt-to-software conglomerate after Tata retires on December 28.
Tata, who will turn 75 later this month, will continue to serve the group as ‘honorary chairman emeritus’, a Tata Sons statement said.
Mistry, whose family owns 17% in Tata Sons, making it the largest individual shareholder in the company, worked as deputy chairman for more than year after the board announced that he would succeed Tata.
Before that, he was the managing director of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, India’s second-largest infrastructure company.
A five-member search committee to select the chairman, set up in August 2010, zeroed in on Mistry from a reported shortlist of five. Mistry was a member of that panel, and recused himself when his own name came under consideration.
Mistry did not issue a statement on Tuesday. But in November 2011, when his name was announced, he had said: “I take this responsibility very seriously and in keeping with the values and ethics of the Tata Group will undertake to legally dissociate myself from the management of my family businesses to avoid any conflict of interest.”
The “responsibility” is, indeed, challenging. Over the last decade, Tata turned the Rs. 10,000-crore India focussed group that he inherited in 1991 into India’s largest multinational.
In 2007, under his leadership, Tata Steel acquired Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus for $12.3 billion to land in the list of the world’s top 10 steel companies, virtually out of nowhere.
A year later, Tata Motors bought out Jaguar-Land Rover from Ford Motor. These followed a spate of smaller buyouts in beverages and hospitality that greatly expanded the footprints of the Taj Group of Hotels and Tata Global Beverages.