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As huge Tata boardroom fire spreads, Ratan meets FM Jaitley

As huge Tata boardroom fire spreads, Ratan meets FM Jaitley
Ratan Tata, back at the helm of India’s biggest conglomerate, Tuesday met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as bitter boardroom battle continues to rage following the ouster of Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry.

Tata, who reportedly wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi informing him about the changes at the over USD 100 billion group within hours of Tata Sons bringing him back in place of Mistry, met Jaitley for over 30 minutes.

The 78-year-old chieftain refused to comment on the discussion with Jaitley, who also heads the Corporate Affairs Ministry.

Besides Jaitley, Tata is believed to have sought meeting with Prime Minister. Mistry too had sought meetings with Modi and Jaitley.

The government has so far stayed clear of the row calling it an internal affair of Tata Sons.

Tata-Jaitley meeting comes amid escalation of feud between the Tata Group patriarch and his estranged successor.

On October 24, Mistry was abruptly removed as Chairman of group holding company Tata Sons Ltd, less than four years after he succeeded Ratan Tata triggering several rounds of allegations and counter allegations.

Mistry has said he was wrongfully terminated and alleged constant interference from his predecessor undermined his leadership, reducing him to a lame duck Chairman.

Tata Sons on the other hand accused Mistry of being a poor leader who was seeking to wrest control of some of key units. The ousted Chairman denied these allegations as unsubstantiated.

Though Mistry was sacked from the holding company, he retains chairmanship at key listed units. 

Tata Sons has removed him as Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and has asked Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels Co Ltd and Tata Motors to call extraordinary general meeting of its shareholders to remove Mistry from the board. Independent directors at at least two of the companies - Indian Hotels Co Ltd and Tata Chemicals have backed Mistry’s leadership.

Tata Sons is also seeking to remove independent director Nusli Wadia, who is believed to be a force behind getting independent directors to back Mistry. 

Tata Global Beverages sacks Mistry as chairman

In a major escalation of boardroom brawl at the Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry was  on Tuesday voted out as chairman by the board of the Tata Global Beverages, the second listed firm of USD 103-billion Group to remove him.

Seven out of 10 directors at the board meeting of Tata Global Beverages, the maker of Tata Tea and Coffee, voted for removal of Mistry as chairman of the company, TGBL said in a regulatory filing.

Last week, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said Mistry, who was abruptly sacked as the chairman of Tata group’s holding company, has been removed and replaced by Ishaat Hussain in the interim.

Tata Global Beverages Ltd (TGBL) said Harish Bhat, a non-executive director of the company, has been appointed chairman of the company.

Bhat is believed to be a confidant of Ratan Tata, who was brought back from retirement as interim chairman of Tata Sons after Mistry was shown the door.

Since taking over, the 78-year-old Tata has begun tightening his grip over the conglomerate.Even after his removal as chairman of Tata Sons, Mistry continues to head several listed companies ranging from Tata Motors to Tata Steel and Tata Power.

Tata Sons has asked Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals and Indian Hotels Co Ltd (IHCL) to call extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to remove Mistry from the board.

“The board of directors of the company considered the continuance of Cyrus P Mistry as chairman of the company at its board meeting held on November 15, 2016,” TGBL said in the regulatory filing.

“After extensive deliberations, and keeping in view the long-term interest and alignment of all stakeholders and stability of the company, the board of directors resolved to replace Cyrus P Mistry as chairman of the Company, by a majority vote, with 7 out of the 10 Directors present at the board meeting, voting in favour of the resolution.” 

The TGBL board has 10 members, excluding ousted chairman Mistry. It includes six independent directors -- Darius Pandole, V Leeladhar, Mallika Srinivasan, Analjit Singh, Ranjana Kumar and Ireena Vittal.

The other four are Harish Bhat, who has been today appointed chairman of the company, Managing Director and CEO Ajoy K Misra, Non-executive Director S Santhanakrishnan and Executive Director L Krishnakumar.

Among independent directors, Pandole is a partner at private equity (PE) fund New Silk Route (NSR) while Leeladhar is former CMD of Vijaya Bank and Union Bank of India. Mallika Srinivasan is the Chairman and CEO of Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited. Analjit Singh is Chairman of Max India and Ranjana Kumar is former vigilance commissioner of the Central Vigilance Commission.

On November 5, seven independent directors of Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) had strongly backed Mistry. Tata Chemicals independent directors had also come out in support of Mistry.

Last week, taking Mistry head on, Tata Sons sought his removal as well as that of the group’s friend-turned-foe Nusli N Wadia from the board of three prime listed Tata group companies -- Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals and Tata Steel.

Tata Sons, which holds 26.51 per cent stake in Tata Motors, has asked the manufacturer of Jaguar Land Rover to convene an extra-ordinary general meeting of the company to consider its resolution seeking removal of Mistry and Wadia. 


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