Tatas to lead, not follow: Chandrasekaran

Tatas to lead, not follow: Chandrasekaran
N Chandrasekaran today took over as Chairman of Tata Sons, promising disciplined capital allocation and shareholder returns in group companies, while exhorting them to "lead, not follow."

"We will work together to deliver business performance which are industry leading in all our businesses and lead, not follow," the 53-year-old Tata veteran said in a statement on assuming charge this morning.

Tata vetran Chandra, as he is popularly known, has been elevated to the post as the first non-promoter, non-Parsi and non-shareholder Chairman after heading its crown jewel TCS for years.

He also touched on the delicate topic of capital allocation and shareholder returns.

"We will work together with all the business leaders in the group to drive a lot of discipline on capital allocation and shareholder returns," he said.

A dip in dividends by group companies to the philanthropic Tata Trusts, which owns a tad over 66 per cent of group holding company Tata Sons, was cited as one of the reasons for the sudden ouster of Cyrus Mistry on October 24, 2016.

The 79-year-old Ratan Tata returned from retirement to hold charge as interim chairman before zeroing in on Chandra to head the salts-to-software conglomerate.

Mistry reacted by coming out with not-so-palatable allegations about the functioning of the diversified group, including personal allegations against Ratan Tata himself.

The higher judiciary and the appellate tribunals will now decide the fate of the dramatic developments at the country’s most revered industrial conglomerate.

The Tatas had rubbished all allegations and wrested control after removing Mistry from directorships at group companies and finally the holding company.

Ratan Tata will continue to be the Chairman of the Tata Trusts. Mistry's family owns over 18.4 per cent in the holding company and is the biggest shareholders after the Tata Trusts.

"I look forward to working with all the group entities, bringing group together to make an impact both in terms of business and also in terms of society at large," Chandra, who joined TCS as a management trainee over three decades ago, said.

After arriving at the group headquarters, the 93-year-old Bombay House in the heart of the megapolis, at around 9:15 am, Chandra chaired his first board meeting as the Chairman.
 
Calling it an honour and privilege to lead the group, Chandrasekaran said that the Tata companies have historically shown "tremendous spirit in terms of pioneering and leadership".

The group relies heavily on TCS and the acquired British automaker JLR, whereas other traditional businesses that made it a force to reckon with like steel, auto and hospitality, are not at the top of their mark, according to industry watchers.

Under Chandra, whose interests include running marathons and photography, TCS has grown into the country's largest IT exporter. He had been associated with the company for nearly three decades, and rose through the ranks to head it.

Wishing Chandrasekaran success, Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons said, "I welcome Chandra, who has successfully displayed his leadership in his career at Tata Consultancy Services. I am sure he will bring considerable value to his leadership role in the Tata group in the years ahead."

A Tata Sons statement quoted Chandrasekaran as saying that he will work with three "strategic priorities".

These will include bringing the group closer together to leverage its collective strength, reinforce leader’s mindset among the operating companies and drive world-class operating performances across the group.

The third priority is on getting "greater rigour" to capital allocation policies and deliver superior returns to our shareholders, he said.

Chandrasekaran has already been appointed as the chairman of key operating companies including Tata Power, Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Consultancy Services. 
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