Its Cyrus Mistry who will step into Ratan N Tatas shoes to head the $73-billion Tata conglomerate. Much like the legendary JRD Tata, who believed that his protégé Ratan Tata was blessed with a modern mind, it would seem that Mistrys youth and his closeness to the group tipped the scales in his favour.
On Wednesday, Mistry, 43, the younger son of Tata Sons largest individual shareholder Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, was appointed deputy chairman of Tata Sons, paving the way for his elevation when Ratan Tata retires. A statement from Tata Sons said he will work with Ratan Tata over the next year and take over when he retires in December 2012.
The move came as a surprise since Mistry was not believed to be in the reckoning. In fact, the appointment of Ratan Tatas 54-year-old half brother Noel Tata as Tata International MD last August was interpreted as a move that would finally result in his leading the group. Noel Tata, also non-executive vice-chairman of Trent, had built up the groups retail outfit into a profitable venture.
Among outsiders, the name of Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, had done the rounds.
Corporate circles interpreted Mistrys selection as one that would certainly have had Ratan Tatas blessings. They point out that though Mistry may not command much experience, his youth and familiarity with the group and his understanding of the groups values would have given him an edge. Moreover, an insider, they point out would be more acceptable to the groups numerous CEOs. On one occasion, Ratan Tata had said it was not enough to be part of the family to become group chairman.
In a statement, Ratan Tata said: The appointment of Mr Cyrus P Mistry as deputy chairman is a good and far-sighted choice. He has been on the board of Tata Sons since August 2006 and I have been impressed with the quality and calibre of his participation, his astute observations and his humility.
He is intelligent and qualified to take on the responsibility being offered and I will be committed to working with him over the next year to give him the exposure, the involvement and the operating experience to equip him to undertake the full responsibility of the group on my retirement, said Ratan Tata.
I feel deeply honoured by this appointment. I am aware that an enormous responsibility, with a great