In a submission to the Supreme Court on (date), the Tata Trust’s current Chairman, Ratan Tata said that the future head of Tata Trusts could be a non-Tata. “I happen to be the current chairman of these trusts. It could be somebody else, not necessarily with the surname ‘Tata’, in the future. An individual’s life is finite, whereas these organisations will continue,” he said, as quoted by The Economic Times.
Members of the Tata family have no “vested right” to that position or even to the chairmanship of Tata Sons, he said in response to a plea led by Cyrus Investments, a company controlled by the Mistry family. The submissions come at a time when Ratan Tata is understood to be evaluating plans to institutionalise the management of Tata Trusts with an eye on the future, said top officials close to the developments.
He added that the current chairman of Tata Sons (N Chandrasekaran) was also not from the family, countering the Mistry group’s claim that Tata Sons, the holding company, was a ‘quasi-partnership’ between the Tata and Mistry families. Cyrus Investments, which owns Tata Sons shares, has sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to obtain ‘proportionate representation’ on the board of the holding company.
“That so far as the members of the Tata family (descendants/ relatives of founders) are concerned, no special right or role has ever been stipulated or given to them in the company (Tata Sons), or its management, apart from the rights that they would have under law as a shareholder in the company,” Tata responded, adding that he and his relatives own less than 3% of Tata Sons.
“This is by choice, and not by accident,” Tata said. “As early as 1919 and 1932, the founding members consciously endowed their wealth and shareholding in Tata Sons to charitable trusts with a vision to create an enduring legacy and institution which would become – and that has become – a benchmark for business excellence.”
The response led by Ratan Tata said that other group companies, which cumulatively hold close to 13% stake in Tata Sons, also do not have any special rights. Therefore, it is not the case of the appellant (Mistry group) being singled out with regard to denial of any rights.
Ratan Tata is working on a plan to institutionalise the management of Tata Trusts, where he could seek to form a committee of high-ranking individuals from various fields, especially those with a solid background in philanthropy and humanities.