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Cyrus Mistry, brought in young as Tata Group chief and gone soon

Cyrus Mistry Exit Updated: Oct 25, 2016 20:50 IST
HT Correspondent
Cyrus Mistry

Cyrus P Mistry, 48, became the sixth group chairman of the Tata Group in December 2012 after a long search by a panel headed by his predecessor, Ratan Tata. (Hindustan Times)

Cyrus P Mistry, 48, became the sixth group chairman of the Tata Group in December 2012 after a long search by a panel headed by his predecessor, Ratan Tata.

What appeared to have swung it for Mistry – PepsiCo head Indra Nooyi and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin were whispered to have been in the fray – was that his father, Pallonji, was the single-largest individual shareholder in Tata Sons, next only to the combined chunk held by the Tata Trusts. But that chunk could not prevent Mistry’s stint from becoming the shortest among all the chairmen so far.

Mistry himself was part of the panel tasked to find a successor to Ratan Tata and ended up being a surprise selection

Mistry did not have the wider appeal and charisma of Ratan Tata, and had a costly settlement with Japanese telecom company NTT DoCoMo. But, in his favour, the combined market capitalisation (the sum of the market value of all equity shares) of the group’s listed companies nearly doubled during his tenure. This figure had risen 57 times under Tata’s 21 years, but Tata had the advantage of starting on much smaller base.

Mr Indispensable: Why Tata Group just can’t say goodbye to Ratan Tata

Mistry took some bold decisions, such as to put the group’s steel operations in the United Kingdom up for sale as part of his focus on profitable businesses. The acquisition of the European steel business had been a shining achievement for Ratan Tata.

Mistry was the first non-Indian, and only the second non-Tata, to head the group, though he was closely connected to the Tatas. He held an Irish passport on account of his mother being an Irish citizen of Indian extraction. Mistry has two sisters, Laila and Aloo. The latter is married to Noel Tata, half-brother to Ratan, who had been pipped to the chairman’s post by Mistry four years ago.

In 1992, Mistry married Rohiqa Chagla, daughter of Iqbal Chagla, one of India’s most prominent lawyers. Mistry was earlier managing director of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which, under him, grew from pure-play construction to execution of complex projects in the marine, oil and gas, and rail sectors across geographies.

He is fond of books and golf, and is often described as “soft-spoken, candid and down to earth”. Like Ratan, Mistry is said to love cars -- especially SUVs. He is known to be a foodie and his favourite holiday destination is Europe.