Companies

Brand Tata back on solid ground under Chandra

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 27, 2018

A year after the Tata-Mistry spat, despondency has been replaced by decisiveness, hope

Walk into Bombay House these days and you will not find any reminiscence of the mayhem that had broken out a year ago when then chairman Cyrus Mistry was unceremoniously sacked.

The sense of disbelief, despondency and uncertainty has been replaced by purpose, decisiveness and hope going by what a number of company insiders told BusinessLine.

“A year ago we were shocked. All hell had broken loose. How could this happen in the Tata Group was the first reaction. But 12 months later it’s almost as if nothing happened. We have taken positives out of the entire saga and we have worked on areas that needed attention,” said a senior Tata executive.

The same executive had told BusinessLine last year that the mood within the group then was one of uncertainty, with several businesses within the group struggling and on the verge of collapse.

While messy boardroom battles are known to impact the brand significantly, the Tatas have managed to contain the impact, thanks to Mistry failing to get a favourable ruling in most court hearings.

“When the tussle broke out, many group employees were uncertain as to who was right. On the one hand, Mistry had made allegations of interference and mismanagement, but on the other, the Tatas are not known for such events. It was confusing for most,” said an executive close to the Tata’s legal team.

But when neutral entities such as the NCLT started commenting mostly in favour of Tata Sons, Mistry’s campaign lost steam. When N Chandrasekaran took charge as Chairman of Tata Sons in February, he was faced with multiple challenges, including loss-making businesses, skewed capital allocation and the fallout on brand Tata, post Mistry’s exit.

Eight months later, many of these challenges have been addressed through some tough decision-making. Tata’s bleeding mobile services unit has been given away to Airtel in a zero cash, zero debt deal, which Tata Group CFO Saurabh Agrawal termed as “ gulping the poison”.

Similarly, a decision has been taken to form an equal joint venture between Tata Steel’s Europe assets and Thyssenkrupp. These two deals alone will lead to savings of several thousands of crores for the Group. “Chandra has moved quick and decisively. Some of the points flagged by Mistry, including doing away with the complex cross-holding structure and exiting stressed assets, have been addressed. This has brought in confidence within the Group,” said a former Tata executive.

Published on October 22, 2017

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