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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry speaks to shareholders during the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) annual general meeting in Mumbai June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash
By Rupam Jain
MUMBAI (Reuters) -Cyrus Mistry, the 54-year-old former chairman of Indian conglomerate Tata Sons, died in a road accident near financial capital Mumbai on Sunday, Indian police said.
Mistry was ousted as chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the $300-billion salt-to-software Tata conglomerate, in a boardroom coup in 2016, sparking a long-drawn-out legal tussle on which India’s top court eventually ruled in Tata Group’s favour.
The accident took place in Palghar, located about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Mumbai, on Sunday afternoon. Mistry was travelling to Mumbai from Gujarat with three others, B. Patil, the top police official in Palghar district, said.
A senior Mumbai police official said the car in which Mistry was travelling had rammed into a divider, and that he had died at the accident site.
Several prominent politicians and industrialists tweeted their condolences after news of Mistry’s passing was reported. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Mistry’s demise untimely and shocking.
“He was a promising business leader who believed in India’s economic prowess. His passing away is a big loss to the world of commerce and industry,” Modi tweeted.
Mistry’s family and Tata Sons did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Tata Consultancy Services, in which Tata Sons owns a majority stake, said it was mourning the untimely demise of its former chairman, adding that the company was offering its “deepest condolences and prayers” to his family and friends.
“He was a warm, friendly, and congenial person who built a strong relationship with the TCS family during his time as the chairman of the company,” TCS said in a statement.
Mistry was the sixth chairman of the Tata group, a conglomerate started over 150 years ago, and the second not named Tata. He was the brother-in-law of Noel Tata, half-brother of Mistry’s predecessor as chair Ratan Tata.
Mistry’s grandfather first bought shares in Tata Sons in the 1930s. The Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group, founded by Mistry’s father, currently holds a near 18% stake, making it the largest single shareholder in a firm mostly controlled by trusts.
The decades-long relationship between SP Group, one of the country’s largest construction firms, and Tata Group was strained following his sacking, and SP Group has since been looking to “separate its interests” from Tata Sons.
Fund managers Reuters spoke to at the time of Mistry’s appointment described him as little-known in business circles.
A graduate in civil engineering from London’s Imperial College and in management from the London Business School, Mistry described himself as a voracious reader of business books and golfer, and shared his family’s love of horses.
SP Group did not immediately respond to Reuters requests seeking comment on Mistry’s death.