Cyrus Mistry’s eviction from Tata Sons: What we know so far, speculations and who said what
Four years ago, when Cyrus P Mistry took over the reins of India's largest conglomerate, Tata Sons, as its chairperson, Indian business community welcomed an outsider to head a family enterprise.
Because in a country where often sons and daughters (rarely) inherit the riches earned and accumulated by their parents, a Mistry heading the Tata Group is seen as a departure from business "feudalism" and marked the beginning of the making of a truly "professional" corporate world.
In the wake of Mistry's removal, Ratan Tata, patriarch of one of India's most influential families, will take over as the interim chairperson of Tata Sons.
In fact, it was Ratan Tata, who had stepped down as the chairperson to make way for Mistry in late 2012.
Reasons behind the sacking
Hours after the news about the sacking of the 48-year-old businessman was first announced, experts tell us that tension was growing between Mistry and "old guards" in the company for some time now.
According to a report by The Times of India, reasons were many for Mistry's removal.
"There were many theories--ranging from unhappiness over the group's performance, to the handling of certain situations and companies--none of which could be confirmed. At the core, though, there appeared to be a clash of cultures and management styles; there was concern over the erosion of long-held "values" and the reversal of certain policies and practices," added the report.
The Tata Sons board gave no detailed reason for the change in guard, but in a statement said, "It may be appropriate to consider a change for the long-term interest of Tata Sons and Tata group."
A report by the Business Standard says theories like Welspun acquisition and management restructuring under Mistry's tenure proved fatal for the former chairperson's career.
Behind the scenes
Like the business community, rest of India is curious to know what exactly happened "behind the scenes" before the actual episode unfolded.
According to a report by The Economic Times, a day before the Tata Sons board met on Monday, Harvard Business School dean Nitin Nohria met Cyrus Mistry for more than two hours where he conveyed a message from Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan Tata about what might come up for discussion at the meeting.
Government kept in the loop
As soon as the news of the ouster was made public by the Tata Sons board, Ratan Tata informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday about the change in the top management of Tata Group.
Future course of action
The Tata Sons board has constituted a selection committee to choose a new chairman. The committee comprises Ratan Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, former foreign secretary Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, as per the criteria in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons. The committee has been mandated to complete the selection process in four months.
The "business drama" is likely to unfold further at the doorsteps of the courts. "Mistry is likely to move the Bombay high court this week challenging the decision of the Tata Sons board to dismiss him," says a report by The Times of India.
Reactions from the business fraternity
This is what business leaders had to say about the development.
According to Mohandas Pai, chairperson of Manipal Global Education and former member of the board of directors of Infosys, Ratan Tata shouldn't have come back after walking into the sunset.
Pai in an interview to The Economic Times, said, "It is very surprising this is happened and it is a more surprising that a former chairman has come back."
"I firmly believe than when you finish your term, you must go into the sunset and not come back. Coming back shows that you are dependent on one person and for a very old 150 year old group that is not good," Pai added.
Anand Mahindra, chairperson and managing director, Mahindra Group, refused to give his opinion on the biggest corporate news of the year. When asked on Twitter to comment on the episode, this was Mahindra's reaction:
In today's day & age, we instantly turn into expert commentators well before all the key facts are known. I refuse to fall into that trap https://t.co/to1zU2cYmL— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) October 24, 2016