Even as the four wise men and one woman at Bombay House search for the best candidate to succeed Ratan Tata as head of the Tata Group, bookies across the country believe half-brother Noel Tata is a clear favourite in the race.
Though the appointment will be made months later, the betting has begun. Other contenders, according to bookies, are Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi, Vodafone ex-chairman Arun Sarin, Citibank head Vikram Pandit, Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy and current UID project boss Nandan Nilekani.
The odds for favourite Noel Tata are low, just 1:1.20 — if he is anointed heir, the punter will get only 20 paise more for every rupee he bets. Those betting on Nilekani —whose chances bookies claim are the lowest — will get Rs 1.90 on every rupee they put in.
Indra Nooyi and Carlos Ghosn are jointly the second most likely candidates. The odds on both of them are 1:1.50.
“Betting has just begun. Since the decision is months away, it will take some time before serious bets start coming in,” said a Delhi-based punter.
“Betting will be the maximum in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, which are the financial hot spots in the country. Since the Tatas are now a global brand, punters in Dubai are also placing bets.”
The inclusion of Infosys founder chairman Narayana Murthy is curious, considering he is 64 and distanced himself from professional activity some years back. His odds are slightly lower than Nilekani — that is, bookies think he has a better chance!
Since betting is not permitted in India, the entire process is of course illegal.