Interim Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata has denied reports of him considering to step down as Chairman of Tata Trusts. In a brief statement put out today, Tata group said that Ratan Tata was in no plans as of now to step down from the post.
"On news reports, Ratan Tata clarified that there are no plans for stepping down from chairmanship of Tata Trusts as of now," ANI reported citing a company statement.
Reports were rife of Ratan Tata likely to step down as chairman of the Tata Trusts, which controls 66 per cent stake in Tata Sons, the holding company of the Rs 7.3 lakh-crore salt to software conglomerate.
According to a Times of India report, the Trusts have asked an external consultant to advise them on the selection process, which is expected to be completed by mid-2017.
Tata’s long-time confidant R K Krishna said that the next chairman of the Trusts will be an Indian, however, he may not necessarily be a Parsi or a member of the Tata family, according to the report.
Ratan Tata’s abdication would bring his decades-long association with India’s largest conglomerate to an end. Moreover, he will no more remain a trustee once he hands over the charge to the new chairman.
It would also put to rest charges that he continues to control Tata Sons through his leadership at the Trusts even after leaving Tata Sons and that the next chairman of the holding company would remain in the long shadow of the patriarch.
The move comes amid Tata Sons itself being in the midst of naming a chairman by end-February as Ratan Tata had took over the charge as interim chairman after Cyrus Mistry’s ouster.
When Ratan Tata had made way for Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons in 2012, he continued to stay on as head of Tata Trusts. It was the first time in the history of the Tatas that the two positions were not headed by the same person.
According to the report, Tata’s close aide and managing trustee R Venkataraman said that he too was likely to exit the Trusts “in the event of Ratan Tata demitting office”.
Venkataraman, who had been targeted by the Mistry camp, is expected to move overseas and manage Tata’s personal investments.
“The next chairman has to be someone who has the right vision and be in complete alignment with the will of the Tata Group founders,” Krishna Kumar, a group veteran and Tata trustee, was quoted by Times of India as saying.
Krishna Kumar said that the chairmen of Tata Trusts and Tata Sons would be different in the immediate future. Since some of the Tata trustees are in their late 70s to 80s, the preference would be for someone in the mid-50s to early 60s so that the person has adequate time to leave an impact.
As Kumar said that the new chairman would not necessarily be a Parsi, Ratan Tata’s successor might be the first non-Parsi chairman in the history of the Tata Trusts.
He further explained that the new chairman of the Tata Trusts would initially work with Ratan Tata, possibly as deputy chairman, before taking over.
On Thursday, industrialist Musli Wadi, who serves on the boards of several Tata Group companies, filed a Rs 3000 crore lawsuit against Ratan Tata and Tata Sons for defamation.
Wadia has claimed compensation against Tata Sons and its interim chairman Ratan Tata for various accusations hurled at him, the Economic Times reported. He said that there was no valid reason given for the allegations and the extraordinary meetings called by the group for his ouster.