Tata Sons rejects SP Group’s demand for separation, terms it ‘nonsense’

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on December 10, 2020 Published on December 10, 2020

A photo of Bombay House, corporate office of Tata Sons in Mumbai.

The Tata Group, which is embroiled in a bitter legal battle with Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SP Group), has rejected the latter’s demand for a separation and termed it ‘nonsense’.

The SP Group had proposed dividing the assets of Tata Sons, the holding company of all Tata firms, so that it can get 18 per cent share in all companies, Tata Sons’ counsel Harish Salve told the Supreme Court hearing the final arguments in the Tata-Mistry legal tangle, on Thursday.

“It’s nonsense. This kind of relief cannot be granted... I am opposing it,” Salve said, adding the application for separation is not tenable at this stage.

In September, the SP Group had sought to part ways by selling its 18.37 per cent stake in Tata Sons as “mutual co-existence of both groups at Tata Sons would be infeasible”, signalling the end of a 70-year partnership. The two business groups — Tatasand the SP Group — have been in a protracted legal battle after Cyrus Mistry was ousted as Tata Sons’ Chairman in 2016.

According to Salve, the Mistry group is seeking separation as a matter of right, claiming oppression of minority shareholder rights. On allegations of misconduct, counsel said these primarily relate to downstream companies and not Tata Sons, the holding company of the salt-to-software conglomerate.

On Thursday, senior counsel C Aryama Sundaram began arguments on behalf of two SP Group companies — Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investment Corporation — through which Mistry had filed appeals.

‘Loss of confidence’

The relationship between Tata Sons and the SP Group was of mutual trust, said Sundaram, adding ‘oppression’ could also mean an act that leads to loss of confidence in the manner the company is run. He said certain actions were prejudicial to Mistry family, though not necessarily oppressive.

Hearings will continue on December 14.

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Published on December 10, 2020
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