Af­ter Dark Days, Full Moon at Bom­bay House

Tak­ing charge, Chandra seeks co­op­er­a­tion of group lead­ers to de­liver share­holder value

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Our Bureau

Mumbai: N Chan­drasekaran took over as chair­man of Tata Sons on Tues­day, pledg­ing to work closely with group busi­ness lead­ers and max­imise share­holder re­turns at the 150-year-old con­glom­er­ate that was rocked by a bat­tle for con­trol af­ter pre­de­ces­sor Cyrus Mistry was ousted in Oc­to­ber last year.

Chan­drasekaran, pop­u­larly known as Chandra, started the day by cast­ing his vote in the Mumbai mu­nic­i­pal polls be­fore head­ing to TCS to pass on the CEO ba­ton to Ra­jesh Gopinathan. Af­ter that, he went to Bom­bay House — the head­quar­ters of the $103bil­lion Tata Group — where he was greeted by chair­man emer­i­tus Ratan Tata. Both of them gar­landed the busts of Tata Group founder Jam­setji Nusser­wanji Tata and for­mer chair­man JRD Tata.

“I am very proud of be­ing part of the Tata fam­ily and I look for­ward to work­ing with all the group en­ti­ties, bring­ing the group to­gether to make an im­pact both in terms of busi­ness and also in terms of the so­ci­ety, at large,” said Chan­drasekaran, the first non-Parsi and third non-Tata chair­man of the group.

“We will work to­gether with all the busi­ness lead­ers in the group to drive a lot of dis­ci­pline on cap­i­tal al­lo­ca­tion and share­holder re­turns,” he said later in a me­dia re­lease.

“I look for­ward to the op­por­tu­ni­ties of the group in this new role for the years to come and seek sup­port from every­one so that we can col­lec­tively make it hap­pen,” Chan­drasekaran said. The new chair­man of the hold­ing com­pany said he wants to re­in­force a lead­er­ship mind­set at the group, lever­age its enor­mous col­lec­tive strength and de­liver su­pe­rior re­turns to share­hold­ers.

“This can only be achieved with a re­lent­less fo­cus on the cus­tomer, by gain­ing a deeper un­der­stand­ing of their as­pi­ra­tions, and by de­sign­ing our prod­ucts and ser­vices to meet their needs,” he wrote in a let­ter to em­ploy­ees. “In to­day’s con­text, where tech­nol­ogy is play­ing a key role in busi­ness suc­cess, the need for in­no­va­tion is vi­tal to help reimag­ine and rein­vent our busi­nesses for the fu­ture.” Chan­drasekaran at­tended a meet­ing of the Tata Sons re­mu­ner­a­tion and nom­i­na­tion com­mit­tee and chaired his first board meet­ing at Bom­bay House af­ter that. Among those he met were two group vet­er­ans, Tata Trusts nom­i­nee Kr­ishna Ku­mar and his for­mer boss at TCS S Ra­mado­rai, apart from sev­eral se­nior ex­ec­u­tives to take stock of the var­i­ous busi­nesses.

The board of Tata Sons, in­clud­ing its new boss, thanked Ratan Tata for step­ping in as in­terim chair­man af­ter Mistry’s ouster.

Mistry took the fight to share­hold­ers be­fore step­ping down from the board of listed Tata com­pa­nies in De­cem­ber. Both sides ac­cused each other of poor busi­ness de­ci­sions and weak cor­po­rate gov­er­nance norms.

Mistry is cur­rently wag­ing a le­gal bat­tle with the group for al­legedly op­press­ing his mi­nor­ity share­holder rights. Mistry’s fam­ily holds an 18.4% stake in Tata Sons. Tata Trusts, a group of char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions con­trolled by Ratan Tata, hold a 66% stake. Tata Group com­pa­nies and Tata fam­ily mem­bers own the rest. Ratan Tata wel­comed Chan­drasekaran to his new post.

“I am sure he will bring con­sid­er­able value to his lead­er­ship role in the Tata Group in the years ahead,” he said. Chan­drasekaran’s as­cent to the top job was in­spir­ing, a board mem­ber said. “To­day is an im­por­tant day in many ways, for ev­ery or­di­nary In­dian and pro­fes­sional who is will­ing to work hard, and stand by val­ues,” said Amit Chandra, a Tata Sons board mem­ber. “Chandra sig­ni­fies great hope that you can as­pire to rise to head a group as pres­ti­gious as the Tatas… Chandra is a re­la­tion­ship and con­sen­sus builder and is ex­pected to carry all stake­hold­ers along.”

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