The man behind Tetley acquisition, R K Krishnakumar passes away at 84

Jan 2, 2023

By: Vaamanaa Sethi

Tata Group veteran

R K Krishnakumar, who was popularly known as KK, died at the age of 84 years on Sunday, January 1, due to a heart attack.

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Who was RK Krishnakumar?

Krishnakumar, who hailed from Kerala, served multiple positions in the Tata Group. He retired in 2013 at the age of 75, after working for nearly 50 years at the conglomerate.

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Close confidant of Ratan Tata

"Words cannot describe the deep sense of loss I feel on the passing of my friend and colleague R K Krishna Kumar. I will always fondly remember the camaraderie we shared both within the Group and personally," Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the Tata Group said on Monday.

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Compassionate human being says N Chandrasekaran

“R Krishnakumar was a veteran Tata leader who made enormous contribution to the Tata Group over his lifetime. I had the good fortune of knowing him and what stood out was his deep sense of compassion as a human being. He always wanted to help the less privileged and positively impact their lives. We pray for his departed soul and will sorely miss him” said N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons.

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Career at the Tata Group

R Krishnakumar started his career with Tata Administrative Services in 1963 and then later worked with Tata Global Beverages in 1965 (formerly Tata Finlay). He rose to the rank of vice president of South India Plantations in 1982.

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Man behind Tata Tea joint venture

He was said to be the force behind the 271 million pound acquisition of Tetley in 2000, which made Tata Global Beverages one of the top tea makers in the world.

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MD at Indian Hotels

He had replaced Ajit Kerkar as the managing director of Indian Hotels in 1997. He remained as the chairman of Indian hotels till 2013.

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Education background

He did his graduation from Loyola College, Chennai. He then completed his master’s degree from the Presidency College, Chennai.

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Active with Tata Trusts

After retirement, he became a trustee at Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, according to media reports.

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Lesser known fact

KK was one of the first senior executives to reach Taj Hotel, along with Ratan Tata, on the first day of the siege during Mumbai terror attacks, in 2008. He and Tata saw the tragedy unfold and later played the role of a crisis manager.

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Padma Shri awardee

He received the Padma Shri award, which is the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 2009 for his contributions to Indian trade and industry.

Credit: BCCL

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