Tata Steel removes Cyrus Mistry as chairman, names OP Bhatt interim chief
Other | Photo Credit: Reuters

Tata Steel Ltd said on Friday its board has removed Cyrus Mistry from the chairman’s post with immediate effect and named independent director OP Bhatt as the interim chief.

Bhatt will serve as chairman till the outcome of the extraordinary general meeting where the steelmaker will seek shareholders’ approval to remove Mistry and independent director Nusli Wadia from the board.

The shareholders’ meeting will be held on 21 December, Tata Steel said in a stock-exchange filing. The move comes after Tata Sons Ltd, the Tata group’s holding firm and which owns a 29.75% stake in Tata Steel, served a notice to the steelmaker seeking a meeting of shareholders to discuss these proposals.

The company said Bhatt was made chairman “keeping in mind principles of good corporate governance and to provide impartial leadership” to the company in its preparation and conduct of the shareholders’ meeting. The decision was taken to also ensure stability to the company and in the larger interest of Tata Steel’s stakeholders, it added. 

Bhatt, a former chairman of State Bank of India, the nation’s largest lender, was appointed as an independent director of Tata Steel in June 2013. He also serves as an independent director on several other boards including those of Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

Tata Sons had fired Mistry as its chairman last month and named his predecessor Ratan Tata as interim chief. It has now stepped up the offensive against Mistry and those seen supporting him, starting with industrialist Nusli Wadia, and also started the process to remove him from group firms.

Earlier this month, Tata Sons had removed Mistry from the chairman’s post at Tata Consultancy Services, the group’s cash cow in which it holds a majority stake. It had also sacked Mistry from the chairman’s post at Tata Global Beverages Ltd. 

Mistry has termed his sacking illegal and has been digging in his heels for a prolonged fight. He remains the chairman of several Tata group companies including Indian Hotels, Tata Motors Ltd and Tata Power Company. 

Earlier this week, Tata Chemicals Ltd called a meeting of shareholders on 23 December to consider a proposal to remove chairman Cyrus Mistry and independent director Nusli Wadia from its board. The same day, Tata Power said it had received a notice from Tata Sons to call a meeting of shareholders to remove Mistry from the board. 

Indian Hotels, the operator of the Taj chain of hotels, has called for a shareholder meeting on 20 December to remove Mistry. 

The move to target Wadia came after he joined other independent directors at Tata Chemicals in expressing their confidence in Mistry. Wadia is the head of the Wadia Group, which includes companies such as textiles firm Bombay Dyeing, budget carrier GoAir and food products maker Britannia Industries Ltd.

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