Another Mistry rises on Tata confidence| Roadsleeper.com

Another Mistry rises on Tata confidence| Roadsleeper.com

Separately, Tata Trust managing director N. Srinath has resigned, after completing 30 months in the role, the person said, requesting anonymity. The boards of Tata Trusts approved both the decisions on Saturday at an extraordinary meeting. Candidates are being evaluated to replace Srinath but no clear contender has yet emerged, the executive said.

The introduction of Mehli Mistry, the late Cyrus Mistry’s estranged cousin on the boards of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Allied Trusts and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Allied Trusts, paints a picture of how Ratan Tata, 84, entrusts key allies with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the country largest philanthropic institutions.

Besides Noel Tata, Ratan Tata’s half-brother, Pune-based philanthropist Jehangir HC Jehangir, former Citibank chief Pramit Jhaveri, Mistry and industrialist Venu Srinivasan are among the trustees who are in their sixties. Ratan Tata and group veterans like RK Krishnakumar and retired bureaucrat Vijay Singh are in their late seventies and eighties.

An email query sent to a Tata Trust spokesperson Sunday evening did not elicit a response till press time.

Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group, passed a special resolution in August, with the support of the trusts, amending the articles of association by providing that the chairman of Tata Sons and the Tata Trusts will not be the same person. Due to Tata Trust’s 66 per cent stake in the company, the special resolution was passed without much difficulty. Thus, the last Tata Trusts chairman to hold the Tata Sons chairmanship would be Ratan Tata. This was done to ensure an arm’s length relationship and professionalism when India’s largest conglomerate makes business decisions. The trustees’ involvement will be minimal to the extent of three nominee directors present on Tata Son’s board.

Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust own 27.97% and 23.54% respectively in Tata Sons, with smaller affiliated trusts owning 14.32%.

Tata Trust’s board of directors, comprising chairmen Tata, Singh, Srinivasan, Jhaveri and Jehangir, approved both decisions at Tata Trust’s registered office at the World Trade Center in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai. Noel Tata and Krishnakumar could not attend the meeting as they were travelling, according to the executive quoted above.

“Mr. Tata is my mentor. I will do whatever he wants me to do. I have to secure his interests all the time,” Mehli Mistry told Mint. Mistry was appointed in 2014 as a trustee of Tata Medical Center, which runs a cancer care hospital and research center in Kolkata.

Mistry’s induction comes eight months after Noel Tata joined the board of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trusts in February. Noel was elected to the board of the Sir Ratan Tata Trusts in 2019, and at the time of the appointment, people close to the Trusts said it was part of succession planning.

Apart from Sir Dorab Tata Trusts and Sir Ratan Tata Trusts, Mehli was also elected to the board of Tata Education and Development Trusts, another key trust in the group.

Mehli Mistry is the first cousin of the late Cyrus Mistry, with whom he had an acrimonious relationship that worsened after Cyrus’ fallout with Ratan Tata and the Tata group in 2016. This resulted in Cyrus’ ouster as chairman of Tata Sons and its group companies. Mehli, at that time, was firmly behind Tata and the Tata group. At the top of the fight, Mehli spent 200 crore to buy 25 million shares of Tata Power, a move which was then interpreted as a sign of his solidarity with Ratan Tata. He later sold the shares.

Mothers of Cyrus and Mehli are sisters. During the early days of World War II, Mehli’s mother was born in England, where her grandfather was living at the time. Cyrus’ mother was born in Ireland, where the family took refuge. Thus, Mehli has a British passport, while Cyrus had an Irish one. They also share a paternal connection.

Their fathers were first cousins, whose grandfather started Littlewood Pallonji in 1865 by building a pavement in Girgaum in Mumbai. The company built several landmark buildings in Mumbai later.

Mehli Mistry caught in the crossfire in the Cyrus Mistry vs Tata group battle. Cyrus, among many allegations leveled against Tata Power and Mehli, said Mehli’s company won shipping and dredging contracts without following the proper bidding process. He (Cyrus) also raised questions about a flat in Bhaktawar in Colaba, which was given to Ratan Tata by Forbes Gokak, a company then part of the Tata group. Cyrus also leveled allegations that Mehli had transferred non-agricultural land in Alibaug, a seaside resort near Mumbai, to Ratan Tata.

In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld all charges against Tata, Mehli and the Tata group, stating that there was no evidence that Tata acquired wealth at Gokak’s expense and that the Bhaktawar deal took place in 2002, but allegations were made in 2016.

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