Mistry abandons fight to retake Tata chair but seeks board seat
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Cyrus Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Sons, one of India’s biggest conglomerates, will not seek to return to the post even after winning a court case against his removal.
An Indian tribunal in December ordered Tata Sons to reinstate Mr Mistry as chairman after he was forced out in a 2016 boardroom coup, threatening to reignite one of the most contentious episodes in the company’s 152-year history.
But Mr Mistry said in a statement on Sunday that he “will not be pursuing the executive chairmanship of Tata Sons”, adding: “I will however vigorously pursue all options to protect our rights as a minority shareholder.” This included, he said, seeking a seat on the board.
Mr Mistry is from a family of Mumbai tycoons that still owns 18 per cent of the holding company Tata Sons, which has an annual turnover exceeding $100bn, and has argued that his sacking amounted to “oppression” of minority shareholder rights. He had been chairman for four years.
Mr Mistry’s statement appears to offer relief to Tata Sons, which was facing the possibility of having to reinstate him, reversing the efforts of the Tata family to move past a bitter legal battle that tarnished the reputation of the storied conglomerate.
The company had looked to put the episode behind it after a lower court last year ruled against Mr Mistry’s claims.
Tata Consultancy Services, the conglomerate’s flagship business, has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the National Company Law Tribunal ruling that overturned the earlier decision and directed the company to reinstate Mr Mistry as chairman.
In a stock exchange filing on Saturday, the company said it was seeking to set aside the judgment. In its petition, Tata said the latest ruling “has created confusion in the working of important corporate entities, some of which are listed companies”. The company is expected to seek an urgent hearing when the court reopens on Monday.
Mr Mistry took charge of the group, whose vast portfolio includes a European steel business and carmaker Jaguar Land Rover, in 2012 before falling out with his predecessor, Ratan Tata, who had overseen two decades of dramatic growth.
After he was fired, Mr Mistry unleashed a stream of allegations targeted at destroying Mr Tata’s reputation and exposing the group’s supposedly deep-rooted governance flaws.
Mr Tata emerged from retirement to succeed Mr Mistry until Natarajan Chandrasekaran took over as chairman in 2017 and started revamping the group, streamlining its web of businesses that range from tea to IT services.