Former Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry dies in car crash

Mistry, 54, who died on Sunday, was sacked from Tata Sons, the holding company of the $300bn conglomerate, in 2016.

Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry speaks to shareholders
Cyrus Mistry (pictured) was little known in business circles at the time of his appointment to Tata Sons [File: Vivek Prakash/ Reuters]

Cyrus Mistry, the 54-year-old former chairman of Indian conglomerate Tata Sons, has died in a road accident near the financial capital Mumbai, Indian police said.

Mistry was removed as chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the $300bn salt-to-software Tata conglomerate, in a boardroom coup in 2016, sparking a long, drawn-out legal tussle in which India’s top court eventually ruled in Tata Group’s favour.

The accident took place in Palghar, located about 100km (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 on 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 more than 150 years ago, and the second not named Tata. He was the brother-in-law of Noel Tata, half-brother of Ratan Tata, Mistry’s predecessor as chair.

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 percent stake, making it the largest single shareholder in a firm mostly controlled by trusts.

Mistry’s father, Indian-born billionaire Pallonji Mistry, died in June. The SP Group, an engineering empire, started more than 150 years ago and today employs more than 50,000 people in more than 50 countries, according to its website. Its landmark projects include the Reserve Bank of India and the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai and the blue-and-gold Al Alam palace for the Sultan of Oman.

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.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters