The night before Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym presumably jumped to his death in Bangkok’s Shangri-La Hotel, he had an argument with his wife, Sally Slym, according to Thailand police.
Somyot Boonyakaew, the chief investigator on the case, who took a statement from Sally, said she told the police they had been having marital problems for several years and a therapist had suggested she write things out that were difficult to talk about.
So she composed a three-page letter, which she placed on the desk in the room next to his computer, and then went to sleep in their 22nd floor room on Saturday night.
Sally told the police when she woke up to use the bathroom, she saw Karl awake, sitting on a sofa. She went back to sleep. She woke up in the morning to an empty room.
The hotel staff had woken her to inform her that her husband was dead. The 51-year-old executive’s body had been discovered on the 4th floor, where a part of the building juts out, by another hotel guest.
Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym
Read: 'Karl Slym was happy at Tatas, no signs of a depression'
Boonyakaew, the chief of Yannawa police station in Bangkok, said they had certainly ruled out homicide, because of the small size and narrow opening of the waist-height window.
He said nothing in the room was broken or out of order and there was no evidence of a struggle of any sort.
Boonyakaew, who ruled out Sally as a suspect, said it was not known if Karl saw her note before he died. He said the contents of the letter were being kept private by the investigation team.
The couple had no children. Karl has a younger sibling who lives in Spain.
Karl was at the forefront of revamping Tata Motors’ strategy to regain its position in the domestic market.
The British-born executive had joined Tata Motors in October 2012 and was leading operations in India and international markets including South Korea, Thailand and South Africa.
He was in Thailand for a board meeting of the company's subsidiary in the country and was slated to return to India on Sunday.
Karl was in the thick of action and had initiated a slew of measures including a HorizonNext project — a four-pronged customer focused programme that would see a complete overhaul of the firm's current product portfolio.
Tata Motors recently introduced a new petrol engine for its passenger vehicles and was planning to launch a hatchback and compact sedan this year, the first all-new Tata-branded passenger vehicles since 2010.
By the time Karl came on board, the car maker had ceded ground to Mahindra as the third largest passenger vehicle maker in the country and had no new products in two years and just four launches — Vista, Indigo Manza, Nano and Aria — in the past 10.
None of them was a great success and Nano, for all the hype, was a painful reality.
Before joining Tata Motors, Karl was executive vice-president of SGMW Motors, China, a General Motors joint venture. Between 2007-11 he was heading General Motors operations in India.
HTC, New Delhi