Young Investor


ANAND KALYANARAMAN | Updated on November 26, 2011

Mr. Cyrus Pallonji Mistry

At 43, Cyrus Pallonji Mistry has large boots to fill. Earlier this week, he was appointed heir-apparent to Ratan Tata who is credited with transforming the Tata Group from a predominantly Indian behemoth into a global conglomerate. With this, the curtains came down on one of India Inc's most eagerly watched business succession plans.

That the relatively unknown Cyrus Mistry was finally chosen as Chairman-designate of Tata Sons came as a surprise to many.

After all, he was part of the original selection committee, and was not being viewed, at least in the public domain, as being a contender for the top post at Bombay House, the Mumbai-based headquarters of the Tata Group.

Also, Mistry's young age in a group which comprises several industry veterans made many sit up and take notice. Incidentally however, age worked in his favour, in keeping with the Tata Group's moves over the past few years to hand over reins to the next generation of executives.

When he takes over as Chairman of Tata Sons in December 2012, Mistry would be only the second person without a Tata surname (the first being Nowroji Saklatvala) to head the group. Also, being an Irish citizen, he would be the first non-Indian national to be at the helm of affairs of the Tata conglomerate.

The expectations and challenges on the business front facing Mistry would be of a different league altogether. Under Ratan Tata, the Tata Group expanded its global footprint significantly with a bunch of high-profile acquisitions including that of Jaguar Land Rover and Corus.

Today, the group derives almost 60 per cent of its revenues from overseas geographies. Steering a multinational group comprising more than 100 companies in seven sectors, $83 billion in revenues and 425,000 employees across the globe, to the next level of growth, would be no mean task. That too, in times of high global and domestic economic uncertainty.

Mistry who has his task cut out will benefit from the hand-holding Ratan Tata will provide him until December 2012. What should also work to his advantage is that he is in many ways an insider and has been on the board of directors of Tata Sons since 2006.

Mistry's father, the reclusive construction magnate Pallonji Mistry is the single largest shareholder in Tata Sons with an 18.4 per cent stake.

Also, Mistry's sister, Aloo is married to Noel Tata, Ratan Tata's half-brother. Incidentally, Noel Tata was said to be in running for the top slot during the search process. Being an insider for quite some time now, Mistry would be well attuned to the culture and complexities of the Tata conglomerate, and should have a head-start.

Also, he is a seasoned businessman and was the managing director of the behemoth Shapoorji Pallonji Group, his family enterprise, for many years. After his recent ascension in Tata Sons, Mistry has resigned from his posts in the Shapoorji Pallonji Group to avoid any conflict of interest.

Published on November 26, 2011

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