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The battle for control over the $110 billion multinational conglomerate Tata Sons is all set to shift to the Supreme Court as the group will be arguing that Cyrus Mistry became chairman by virtue of his employment and not by shareholding.
“He was hired after an executive search firm looked for a chairman globally. He wasn’t made chairman there because of his shareholding. That was just a cushion,” one of the Tata Sons’ board members told DH.
Multiple sources in the know confirmed that the group is planning to file the case in the Apex Court at the earliest, but the hearing is unlikely before January 6 next year, as the apex court has gone on its yearly vacation.
“While there has been a breather of four weeks awarded by NCLAT for the restoration of his chairmanship, yet his directorship has been restored across various group companies immediately. The board meetings are slated for the third week of next month, and, according to the order, he can attend those meetings. We would be expediting the process,” yet another source said.
The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday restored the Chairmanship of Mistry, who was abruptly sacked on October 24, 2016, after the board passed a resolution of no confidence in him. The NCLAT claimed that the behaviour of the board towards the minority shareholders was “prejudicial” and “oppressive”.
“Mistry had not sought to be reinstated as a chairman, even though NCLAT in its ruling has ordered the ousted chairman to be restored. He had only sought restoration as a board member and not as the chairman. NCLAT has restored Mistry as Chairman, which was outside of his expectations. Yes if he has been wrongfully removed as a Chairman then as an aggrieved party he may have a cause of action under his employment agreement for damages,”, said Mohit Saraf, Partner, Luthra & Luthra law firm.
Yet another source in the know told DH that Ministry of Corporate Affairs is planning to challenge that part of the order wherein the NCLAT struck the conversion of Tata Sons from the public to private company as illegal. The MCA is likely to decide over the matter by Monday.
In its order the NCLAT had stated: “The decision of the Registrar of Companies (RoC) changing the company (‘Tata Sons’) from a ‘public company’ to a ‘private company’ is declared illegal and is set aside. The company (‘Tata Sons’) shall be recorded as a ‘public company’. RoC will make corrections in its record showing the company (‘Tata Sons’) as ‘public company’.”
Tata Trusts, whose nominee director Amit Chandra had initiated no-confidence motion on Mistry, is a core investment company and over 90% of its income comes from dividends from its investments in the various group companies that it controls.
At present Shapoorji Pallonji holds an 18% stake in Tata Sons and Cyrus Investments holds over 10% in the company. On the other hand, Tata Trusts own 66% in the conglomerate.