Bhaskar Bhat, a non-executive and non-independent director of Tata Chemicals, has resigned from the company board citing differences of opinion. Bhat, who is also managing director of Tata group company Titan, stepped down from Tata Chemicals board with immediate effect.
In a letter to Tata Chemicals chairman Cyrus Mistry, who has been ousted as chairman of Tata Sons in the ongoing boardroom battle, Bhat said that he was resigning after reading the statement of the independent directors of Tata Chemicals. “The contents as well as spirit of the statement completely dilutes the views I expressed at the board meeting today, especially regarding the threat the company faces on account of loss of confidence of the promoter Tata Sons in the chairman of Tata Chemicals (Cyrus Mistry). Several important issues of discomfort I expressed seem to have been totally ignored,” Bhat said in his resignation letter late Thursday which was also sent to the exchanges.
Independent directors of Tata Chemicals on Thursday had issued a statement of support for Mistry’s leadership of the company.
This move is aimed at creating camps and will prompt more directors of group companies to take sides - support Tata Sons or back ousted group chairman Cyrus Mistry - as the battle for control of the Tata group intensifies following Thursday’s move by the Tatas to call for shareholder meetings to vote out Mistry as director.
Mistry, who was replaced as chairman of Tata Sons on October 24 and has also been replaced as chairman of TCS by interim nominee of the Tatas, Ishaat Husain, has managed to find support of independent directors of Indian Hotels and Tata Chemicals. He continues to be the chairman of Indian Hotels and Tata Chemicals.
The independent directors of Tata Chemicals include corporate veterans such as Nusli Wadia, Nasser Munjee, YSP Thorat (retired chairman of Nabard) and marketing professional Vibha Paul Rishi.
Independent directors of Indian Hotels had also issued a similar show of support for Mistry, which prompted Tata Sons to call for his ouster as director. Tata Sons had also described Mistry of having ulterior motives to control group companies.
Sources close to Mistry have refuted such charges saying they are not in keeping with governance standards of the Tata Group.