Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, the Chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, passed away at his residence in Mumbai on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday. The business tycoon was 93.

Who was Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry?

Born on June 1, 1929  to a Parsi family from Gujarat, the billionaire construction tycoon had taken up Irish citizenship through marriage in 2003. Mistry was educated at Mumbai’s Cathedral & John Cannon School, before leaving for Imperial College, London, for higher education. 

Starting his career at the age of 18, Mistry worked for his father Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry in the family business, joining Shapoorji Pallonji & Company Ltd, in 1947. 

Founded in 1865, the 156-year-old Mumbai-based Shapoorji Pallonji Group now operates in the construction business in India, Africa, West Asia and South Asia. 

Mistry, who had an eye for new opportunities, helped expand the business to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar in West Asia.

Under his leadership, the company bid for, and won, a tender to build the Palace of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said in Muscat. When HM Sultan opened his Muscat Palace for visitors in 1975, it established Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) as the first Indian construction company to have completed a project abroad.

The Muscat Palace provided a launch pad for SP to consolidate its presence in the region and foray successfully into Africa, where it has executed several landmark projects such as the Presidential Office of Ghana, the National Assembly of Gambia, and the Ebene IT Park in Mauritius. 

The group is also credited with the construction of some of Mumbai’s iconic buildings such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) building, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building, and Brabourne Stadium, among others.

He also acquired strategic stakes in other companies and brought them within the SP Group fold. This includes companies such as Sterling & Wilson, United Motors, Forbes Gokak and Afcons Infrastructure. 

Over the years, he served on the boards of several companies and organisations, including Union Bank of India, W H Brady Group of Companies, The Associated Cement Companies Ltd. of which he was also Chairman for several years, and Tata  Sons Ltd.

Known as the ‘Phantom of Bombay House’ for his elusive nature even though he was the largest individual shareholder in the Tata Group, with a 18.4 per cent holding in the conglomerate.

It was his father who had first purchased shares in Tata Sons in the 1930s.

In early 2012, he stepped down as Chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji And Company Pvt Ltd, the operating and holding company of the SP Group, and handed over the chairmanship to his elder son Shapoor Mistry.

In 2016, Mistry was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India for his contributions in the field of trade and industry.

Among his philanthropic contributions is a home for senior citizens in The B D Petit Parsee General Hospital, Mumbai, funded and set up by Mistry in 2006, along with his wife.

Additionally, SP Group companies have been supporting CSR projects across India, in the areas of education, skills development, nutrition, water, healthcare, social inclusion and environment preservation.

“The nearly 70,000 members of the SP family looked up to him with reverence and for inspiration as a beacon of propriety and solid values in a rapidly changing world,” the SP Group said in a statement.

The business tycoon is survived by his wife — Patsy Perin Dubash — and four children — sons Shapoor Mistry and Cyrus Mistry — and daughters Laila Rustom Jehangir and Aloo Noel Tata.

Shapoor runs the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, while Mistry served as Tata Group Chairman from 2012 to 2016.  Aloo is married to Noel Tata, Ratan Tata’s half-brother.