Will Tata bid adieu to Radia?
The Niira Radia tapes are likely to change the contours of corporate India too.
Just days after audio clips of Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata’s conversation with public relations specialist Niira Radia, the head of PR firm Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, were leaked, Tata is learnt to be contemplating ending his group’s association with Radia and Vaishnavi — on the grounds of conflict of interest.
Speaking to Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief, The Indian Express, on the television show Walk The Talk, Tata said, “In terms of conflict, Reliance industries at that time had no conflict...they were in oil and gas and not in power, not in telecom and not in financial services.”
“Today with the two sides coming together, I think there is more of a chance of conflict. Niira would eventually have to make up her mind what she wants to do... Now, Mukesh is in a position to enter the field of telecom or power, so we have a potential conflict,” Tata said.
When Hindustan Times enquired about their arrangement in future, a Tata Sons spokesperson however said the arrangement with Vaishnavi will continue.
“Various interpretations are being drawn on our position. We reiterate that we do not visualise any change in the arrangement with Vaishnavi Corporate Communications on handling our corporate communication needs,” the Tata Sons spokesperson said in an e-mail.
VCC, which has an over 10-year-old relationship with the Tata Group, said it has the support of Ratan Tata.
“We deeply appreciate the support of Ratan Tata and others in the Tata group at this time, when business rivals are misusing leaked private conversations to malign our name,” VCC told HT in an email. “To suggest that there is any disturbance in our relationship because of this, would be to add to the misleading and mischievous stories some vested interests are spreading.”
Radia heads VCC, which provides communications consultancy to Tata Group. She also heads NeUCom Consulting, that provides similar services to Reliance Industries led by Mukesh Ambani.
While the interest of both Tata Group and Reliance Industries were separate till few months back, under the changed scenario where Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani have reached some sort of settlement, RIL is expected to enter telecom and power sectors in which the Tata Group too has interest, Ratan Tata feels that there could be some conflict.