Tata Sons Calls Shareholders Meet to Oust Mistry From Boardby
Extraordinary general meeting scheduled to be held Feb. 6
Mistry ouster sought to ensure confidentiality, people say
Tata Sons Ltd., the holding company of India’s largest conglomerate, has called for an extraordinary general meeting on Feb. 6 to oust former Chairman Cyrus Mistry from the board of the closely held firm, according to a company spokesman.
Mistry, whose family owns 18.5 percent of Tata Sons, resigned as director from all Tata Group companies and filed a case with the National Company Law Tribunal alleging that trustees led by interim Chairman Ratan Tata were causing a complete breakdown of corporate governance at Tata Sons. Tata Trusts -- a philanthropic group of bodies endowed by the Tata family -- own 66 percent of the firm.
The move to purge Mistry from the holding company is the latest twist in the battle that began with his ouster in October, and has resulted in 26 of the group’s Indian units losing $9.5 billion in market value. Ratan Tata, who mentored Mistry for the chairman job in 2012, is re-asserting control at the group, which has products ranging from the luxury Jaguar Land Rover cars to table salt.
"This is final step that Tata Trusts can take to oust Cyrus Mistry,” said Shriram Subramanian, founder of InGovern Research Services, a proxy advisory firm. “It is unfortunate that the battle has come to this stage, where there will be no representation of the family owning 18.5 percent in one of India’s largest holding companies.”
The Tata Sons board is seeking to remove Mistry to ensure confidentiality of board decisions, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The ousted executive’s office declined to comment on Friday.
Mistry in a December interview said he will remain a director on the holding company’s board “as long as they keep me.” The feud and the law suit wasn’t about his own position but about reforming the organization and ensuring the process for selecting the next chairman was transparent, he’d said.
Ratan Tata and four other prominent leaders -- Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Kumar Bhattacharyya -- are part of a panel formed to find a new Tata Sons chairman by the end of February.