Media playing up ‘hunt for successor': Ratan Tata

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‘Speculation unnecessary': Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Chemicals Ltd, addressing the company's AGM in Mumbai on Monday.
‘Speculation unnecessary': Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Chemicals Ltd, addressing the company's AGM in Mumbai on Monday.

Our Bureau

Mumbai, Aug.9

Even as the search for a successor to Mr Ratan Tata hogged the limelight the whole of last week, the man in the hot seat played down the entire process.

“The media were doing lot of speculation and it is quite unnecessary. In fact, the idea of setting up a selection committee was formed about 10 years ago and some of the parameters for selection criteria were set by me,” said Mr Tata on the sidelines of the Tata Chemicals AGM. Mr Tata has decided to stay away from the committee as he did not want to interfere in the final decision of the panel.

Answering a shareholder's query on whether the successor will be a foreigner or an Indian, Mr Tata said, “The Tata Group is an Indian group and we should not be looking (at it) as a Parsi group. The successor should be the right person and not anti-Parsi or pro-Parsi. It is essentially going to be somebody who can take on the group to the levels that have been set.”

In a lighter vein, Mr Tata said that post-retirement, he would like to sit in the audience and ask questions at the company's annual general meetings.

The $71-billion group has embarked on a global search for a successor to Mr Ratan Tata, who will retire after turning 75 in December 2012. He has been the Chairman of the Group for almost 20 years.

The Tata Group, which has 28 publicly listed companies, employs more than 3.5 lakh people and as many as 75,000 of them work abroad. On an average, the company recruits a lakh every year, largely owing to its software arm Tata Consultancy Services.

A five-member selection committee comprising former Tata Sons' Vice-Chairman, Mr N.A. Soonawala, and two senior group directors Mr R.K. Krishnakumar and Mr Cyrus Mistry, and group adviser and lawyer Ms Shirin Bharucha and influential British businessman Lord Bhattacharya was formed last week to hunt for Mr Tata's successor.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 10, 2010)
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