No formal handing over or shaking of hands took place at Bombay House on Friday, which marked the end to an illustrious 21-year term of Ratan Tata as the chairman of Tata Sons. While Tata chose to spend the day in Pune at various facilities of Tata Motors with his shopfloor colleagues, it was a usual working day for Cyrus Mistry who arrived in a Tata Manza to work as he prepares to take over as the new chairman of the largest corporate house in India.
Having been groomed for over a year for the high profile assignment, Mistry will now be exposed to the world as the head of the Tata Group and should brace up for critical evaluation over the next few years, especially because he will be compared to his predecessor. While he has been appointed for the long-term and age is on his side, the role does not come to him without challenges.
Having moved from a close family owned and run Shapoorji Pallonji Group to a group like the Tata's, which has multiple premier listed companies and that is run by successful CEOs, Cyrus will have to be both accommodative while maintaining the free hand that was provided by outgoing chief Ratan Tata.
Another big challenge before Cyrus will be to maintain the reputation and sanctity of the group, at a time when the fight for natural resources is only getting intense.
If Ratan Tata was helped by the economic liberalisation in the Indian economy that started in the year he took over as the group head and also took the Group to the world in a big manner through mega acquisitions such as — JLR, Corus and Tetley — Mistry has to lead the company through domestic and global slowdown. The stakes are extremely high now, with a large portion (58 per cent) of the group's revenue now coming from international businesses.
A look at the challenges that Mistry has on hand across the flagship companies of the Group:
The challenge begins with Tata Steel's debt amounting to Rs 53,431 crore as on September 2012, which has stayed at those levels since it acquired Corus. Analysts tracking the company say that European operations continue to be a major problem for the company and with slowdown in the demand in Europe and a falling export demand because of downturn in Asia (especially