F C Kohli, the first chief executive of TCS, on Wednesday rebutted ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry’s claim that Tata Group at one point wanted to sell the software major, now considered its crown jewel, to global tech giant IBM.
“Mistry’s comments regarding the sale of TCS to IBM at some ‘unspecified point in time’ are not correct,” said Kohli, widely considered as father of Indian IT industry.
“At no point at that time was there ever an intention of the Tata Group to sell TCS to IBM,” he said in a statement.
Mistry claimed on Tuesday that Ratan Tata had put before JRD Tata a proposal to sell TCS to IBM. The ousted chairman said Kohli’s illness during the period prevented any progress on the matter.
Without specifying the period, Mistry claimed Ratan Tata was the joint managing director of a joint venture between Tata group and IBM when this offer was made.
Terming it as a “near death experience” for TCS, Mistry said, “Ratan Tata was then heading Tata Industries’ joint venture with IBM and approached JRD Tata with a proposal from IBM to buy out TCS. JRD Tata refused to discuss the deal because FC Kohli was still recovering in the hospital from his setback.”
Kohli on Wednesday said he underwent a bypass surgery in 1984, while the joint venture was started in 1991-92.
“I was actively involved in the decision to bring IBM to India. A JV for hardware manufacturing and support in India, Tata IBM, was set up in 1991-92. This JV was undertaken to promote computer hardware industry in India which was non-existent at that time,” Kohli said in the statement.
According to media reports, the JV was dissolved in 1999.
Kohli said JRD Tata was keeping a tab on his health and surgery and also contacted the surgeon in Houston, USA, wanting to know details of Kohli’s return to India as he wanted to discuss a business proposal.
“He (JRD) wanted to discuss Burroughs proposal for software work in India under Tata Burroughs, which might affect TCS’ business,” Kohli said.
Mistry made his allegations, purportedly, to rebut the charge of not contributing materially to the growth of TCS and JLR.
He has made frontal allegations against Tatas, particularly about the way Ratan Tata conducted business.
Kohli joined Tata Electric Companies in 1951. He was the first chief executive of the 1968-incorporated TCS, now the crown jewel of the over USD 100 billion group, and retired from the company in 2000.