Mumbai: There was no
event to mark the occasion, no speeches and the icon himself was
not even there at Bombay House to see the transition, as Ratan
Naval Tata Friday retired as chairman of the $100-billion Tata
Group, after a 50-year association.
Cyrus Pallonji Mistry, 44, unanimously named a year ago as Tata's
successor by the board of Tata Sons, the holding company, will
take over the reins Saturday as the sixth chairman of the group,
which was established in 1868 by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata.
Ratan Tata, who turned 75 Friday, will now be the group's chairman
"He (Mistry) 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," Tata had
said of his successor, calling him intelligent and qualified.
At Tata Group headquarters Bombay House, scores of journalists,
photographers and TV crew waited for Ratan Tata to arrive but were
told that he was not in station. Mistry - whose sister is married
to Noel Tata, Ratan Tata's half-brother - made a quiet entry.
In his farewell letter to all Tata Group employees, Rata Tata
thanked them for their support extended during the last two
decades when he was the chairman.
"This is also the last time that I write to you prior to my
retirement as the chairman of the Tata Group and I want to convey
to you how privileged I have been to have had the opportunity of
leading this great group over the last two decades through good
times and bad," Tata said.
Tata urged the employees to extend the same support to his
successor, Cyrus Mistry.
"The future growth of the group will be led in the coming years by
Cyrus Mistry. I am sure that he will receive from you the same
support, the same commitment and the same understanding that I
have enjoyed over the years," he said.
It will be a no mean task for Mistry, the youngest son of
construction magnate Pallonji Mistry, whose family is the largest
shareholders of Tata Sons with an 18.8 percent stake.
The Tata Group today has in its fold 100 companies, manufacturing
from salt to steel and soap to cars, with a turnover of $100.09
billion -- close to 60 percent of which comes from overseas --
having operations in 80 countries and employing 450,000 people.
Mistry, who holds an M.Sc. in management from London Business
School, will be the sixth chairman of Tata Group in its 144-year
history and only the second who does not carry the "Tata" surname.
Others besides Ratan Tata who held the position of chairman of the
Tata Group are: Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, Sir Dorab Tata, Sir
Nowroji Saklatwala and J.R.D. Tata.
"I take this responsibility very seriously and in keeping with the
values and ethics of the Tata Group I will undertake to legally
disassociate myself from the management of my family businesses to
avoid any issue of conflict of interest," Mistry had said on his
appointment as deputy chairman of Tata Sons last year.
Mistry had joined the board of his family-run firm Shapoorji
Pallonji & Company in 1991 and was appointed managing director of
the company 1994. Mistry left his family business last year in
November upon his appointment as Ratan Tata's successor in Tata
Sons, the holding company of salt-to-steel conglomerate Tata