Tata Group regains footing under new ‘outside’ leader after 150-year journey

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After 4-year detour, India’s largest conglomerate finds growth and stability with first chairman without family ties

Mumbai, November 27, 2017: In this dynamic commercial hub of India, an ambitious refurbishing project of the Bombay House, the headquarters of conglomerate Tata Group, began earlier this month.

The work on the interiors of the landmark 1924 building is intended to make it in sync with the technology-savvy 21st century according to asia.nikkei.com.

Inside the four-story structure, stray dogs roam the hallways with the blessing of Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, while guards keep watch over the colonial-era building, whose facade will remain unchanged. The renovation, for a reported 800 million rupees ($12.3 million), is expected to be completed in eight months.

The refurbishing underscores the slew of important decisions by the group on both its operations and governance, symbolizing the salt-to-software company’s intention to regain momentum after a series of stumbles.

According to the reports published in asia.nikkei.com in January, the Tata Group announced Natarajan Chandrasekaran’s promotion to chairman. In the group’s nearly 150-year history, Chandrasekaran is the third person without the Tata name to hold that title — and he is the first from outside the extended Tata family.

Chandrasekaran’s predecessor was Cyrus Mistry, the heir to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, another family business, which owns 18.4% of Tata Sons, the Tata Group’s holding company. Mistry also is a blood relative of the wife of Ratan Tata’s half-brother, Noel Tata.

Asia.nikkei.com further quoted that it was Ratan Tata himself who reached out to Mistry as he approached retirement in 2012. The chairman emeritus, who will turn 80 next month, was well aware that the dominance of the Tata name was coming to an end.

He told the Times of London in 2011 that Noel Tata did not have the proper experience for the top job. Demands from board members were growing for an insider to lead the group, and the best candidate was someone who was part of the family and had experience: Mistry. It was believed that Mistry could take on the role since he had served on the Tata Sons board for six years.