Ratan Tata, back at the helm of India’s biggest conglomerate, today met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as bitter boardroom battle continues to rage following the ouster of Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry. Tata, who reportedly wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi informing him about the changes at the over USD 100 billion group within hours of Tata Sons bringing him back in place of Mistry, met Jaitley for over 30 minutes. The 78-year-old chieftain refused to comment on the discussion with Jaitley, who also heads the Corporate Affairs Ministry. Besides Jaitley, Tata is believed to have sought meeting with Prime Minister. Mistry too had sought meetings with Modi and Jaitley. The government has so far stayed clear of the row calling it an internal affair of Tata Sons.
Tata-Jaitley meeting comes amid escalation of feud between the Tata Group patriarch and his estranged successor. On October 24, Mistry was abruptly removed as Chairman of group holding company Tata Sons Ltd, less than four years after he succeeded Ratan Tata triggering several rounds of allegations and counter allegations. Mistry has said he was wrongfully terminated and alleged constant interference from his predecessor undermined his leadership, reducing him to a lame duck Chairman.
Tata Sons on the other hand accused Mistry of being a poor leader who was seeking to wrest control of some of key
units. The ousted Chairman denied these allegations as unsubstantiated. Though Mistry was sacked from the holding company, he retains chairmanship at key listed units. Tata Sons has removed him as Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and has asked Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels Co Ltd and Tata Motors to call extraordinary general meeting of its shareholders to remove Mistry from the board.
Independent directors at at least two of the companies – Indian Hotels Co Ltd and Tata Chemicals have backed Mistry’s leadership. Tata Sons is also seeking to remove independent director Nusli Wadia, who is believed to be a force behind getting independent directors to back Mistry.