Life and times of Cyrus Mistry – the most low profile man with the most high profile exit
- In his four year tenure as a chairman,
Cyrus Mistrywas known to maintain a very low profile.
- Cyrus Mistry’s father Pallonji
Mistrywho passed away this June, was known as the Phantom of Bombay House.
- In 2016, Cyrus Mistry was unceremoniously removed as the chairman without giving reasons and he was no more low profile.
- Mistry called his removal from chairmanship ‘unique in history’.
AdvertisementDuring his four-year tenure as the chairman of
After all he came from a family, which is known to zealously protect its privacy. His father Pallonji Mistry who passed away this June, was known as the Phantom of Bombay House for the power he used to wield at the Tata group headquarters and was barely ever seen or heard.
If the course ran smooth, Cyrus too would have remained so but in 2016, he was unceremoniously removed as the chairman without giving reasons and he was no more low profile.
In a bitter boardroom coup, Mistry was asked to step down and when he refused, he was unceremoniously removed by the board of directors. Subsequently he was forced to step down from boards of other Tata companies too. His removal led to one of the ugliest battles that corporate India had ever seen.
‘Unique in history’
Mistry called his removal from chairmanship ‘unique in history’. In addition to questioning many business decisions saying that five companies of Tata group had writedowns that accounted to $18 billion; he also questioned the deal with Air Asia which is known to have made fraudulent transactions.
“We managed to raise awareness among stakeholders of the challenges in governance and ethics in the group. These were tough messages that had to be sent for the long term interest of the group,” he told ET in an interview right after he was removed as the chairman.
He had accused Ratan Tata of inappropriate intervention and Mistry was pushed to become a ‘lame duck chairman’. The case, as expected, went to court and after a string of shocking twists and turns, the Supreme Court passed an order for the Tata group, after which Mistry filed review petitions and they too were set aside by the country’s highest judicial authority.
Mistry, however, never did believe it to be a short-term fight. “I have a lifetime ahead of me and my fight will go on,” he had said. If only, that were true.
Mistry’s Clementine mirror
Cyrus Mistry is survived by wife Rohiqa Mistry and two sons Firoz and Zahan. Rohiqa is the daughter of one of Mumbai’s famous lawyers Iqbal Chagla. The unusually quiet Mistry once spoke in an interview on the Tata website of her role in life.
He called her a Clementine mirror who never shies away from disagreeing with him. He compared her to Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine who had once famously pointed out the errors in the judgment of the war-time hero and Prime Minister of England during its darkest hours.
AdvertisementMistry’s elder brother Shapoor is the sole owner of the Shapoorji Pallonji group, which is known for its construction business in India and the Middle East. The group had also owned Eureka Forbes which was sold to a private equity fund in 2021.
Mistry’s friend and NCP Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule who is his friend, calls him an exceptionally hard-working person, who always puts his best foot forward.
The golf loving Mistry too had admitted, during his tenure as Tata Sons chairman, that he has done a bad job of work life balance. However, immediately after his exit, the first thing he did even before he took the legal recourse, was to go on a holiday.
Timeline of events of Mistry-Tata case
2011: Cyrus Mistry is appointed as the deputy chairman of Tata Sons.
2012: Cyrus Mistry takes over as the chairman of Tata Sons, as Ratan Tata becomes the chairman emeritus.
2016: Tata Sons removes Cyrus Mistry as the chairman and reinstates Ratan Tata as the interim chairman.
Mistry companies move National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) alleging oppression of minority shareholders and challenge his removal.
2017: Tata Sons names N Chandrasekhar as the chairman of Tata Sons.
2019: NCLT restores Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons.
2020: Tata Sons challenges NCLT decision in the Supreme Court.
SC stays NCLT decision. It also restrains Shapoorji Pallonji group from pledging its shares in Tata Sons.
SC sets aside NCLT decision to reinstate Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons.
2022: SC rejects Mistry’s petition to review its earlier decision.
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