Sunday 4 December 2016

Irish man lands top job on Indian board

An Irish citizen has just landed one of the biggest jobs in the world, writes Nick Webb

Published 27/11/2011 | 05:00

IRISHMAN Cyrus Mistry has landed one of the biggest jobs in the world. Last week, he was appointed as chairman of the massive conglomerate Tata -- India's largest business group. It was something of a surprise choice.

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Mr Mistry's father Pallonji became an Irish citizen in 2003 "on the basis of his marriage to an Irish-born national", the late Brian Lenihan told the Dail in 2008 when he was Justice Minister. Pallonji's wife, Patsy Perin Dubash, was born in September 1939 in Hatch Street Nursing House in Dublin. Cyrus, his brother Shapoor and sister Aloo are also Irish citizens by virtue of their mother's birthplace.

With a fortune approaching €7bn, the Mistry family are the richest Irish citizens on the planet.

The bulk of the Mistry wealth comes from their 18.4 per cent stake in the vast Tata Group, which encompasses automobiles, property, chemicals, leisure and heavy industry. However, the family also have their own massive conglomerate, which stretches from hotels to real estate and jewellery.

The 43-year-old Mr Mistry replaces Ratan Tata, who is retiring from running the vast business that bears his family name. Over the last two decades of Mr Tata's leadership, sales at the group's companies have jumped from $5bn (€3.7bn) to more than $83bn last year. Close to two-thirds of all revenues are from outside India. Tata's three largest divisions are Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar and makes the ultra-cheap Nano car; outsourcing division Tata Consultancy Services; and Tata Steel.

Mr Mistry has been running Shapoorji Pallonji & Company, which is the real estate part of his father's empire. He joined the board of Tata Sons in 2006 after his father stepped down as a director. Mr Mistry is also a director of Tata Elxsi and serves on the boards of a number of other companies.

He has not been involved directly in the management of any of the Tata Group's companies -- something that was thought to have counted against him. Tata Group has spent the best part of a year searching for a successor to Mr Tata. Some of the best-known Indian names in global business were linked with the job, including former Vodafone boss Arun Sarin and Pepsico chief executive Indra Nooyi.

Mr Mistry will serve a one-year "bedding-in" period before becoming chairman. Indian observers suggest that his key tasks will be to ramp up flagging sales of the Nano and to cut down the massive debt mountain built up through acquisitions by Tata Steel and Tata Motors.

Keeping family relationships harmonious may also be on his to-do list. Mr Mistry's sister Aloo is married to Mr Tata's half-brother, Noel Tata, who was also in the running to be chairman of Tata. He had been widely seen as the favourite for the job.

The Mistry family is phenomenally low-profile. Pallonji Mistry is seen very rarely in public and spends much of his time at the family stud farm in Pune in India. Cyrus Mistry will have to get used to the limelight.

The Imperial College, London, graduate is described as a car lover, who plays golf well and reads an awful lot of books.

It is telling to note that a Wikipedia entry for him did not exist until just after his appointment was announced last week. It's a page that will get longer and longer.

Sunday Indo Business

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