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Time for Tata to bid bye to shareholders

- Governor on meet list, chairman keeps tryst with final AGM

Four years after being forced to drive away with his dream car project, Ratan Tata landed in Calcutta on Thursday evening to take guard one last time in front of shareholders and also take stock of his other dream project in this part of the world.

On Friday morning, the outgoing chairman of Tata Sons and veteran of annual general meetings of some of the most respected companies of India Inc, will address his final AGM — that of Tata Global Beverages, formerly Tata Tea, the only company in the stable with its headquarters in Calcutta.

He will also make time to visit the Tata Medical Center in New Town, the top-of-the-line cancer care treatment facility he had unveiled last year.

During the AGM of Tata Motors earlier this month, Tata — at the helm of the group since 1991 — had displayed his trademark wry humour: “I am not going to disappear. You will continue to see my ugly face. I will be around, you like it or not.”

The man who had planned to put Bengal on the global automobile map with the Nano plant in Singur, is expected to make the shareholders smile wistfully at the Oberoi Grand even if he fails to meet their expectation on dividends.

Like the last few years, a veil of secrecy was thrown around the itinerary of Tata — the head of the Rs 4 lakh crore-plus group — who checked into Taj Bengal on Thursday evening. On being asked, if he had any plans to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee, he said: “I have no plans.”

At the hotel, nothing special was planned for the boss’s final AGM visit. “He likes to keep things simple,” was the word from inside the Alipore star address.

Tata did step out of the hotel in the evening for Raj Bhavan along with his successor Cyrus Mistry and R.K. Krishna Kumar, vice-chairman, Tata Global Beverages.

Team Tata was mum about the visit while sources in Raj Bhavan said it was a “private dinner” which had him spend around 90 minutes with M.K. Narayanan.

Sources in the group could confirm only two scheduled programmes on Friday. After steering the AGM at Oberoi Grand, Rata Tata will visit the Tata Medical Center.

“This will be his last visit as the chairman of the group and everyone will be waiting for him,” said a hospital source.

When Metro visited the hospital at New Town on Thursday this afternoon, a team was busy setting up a makeshift podium in the endoscopy ward, from where Tata would address the 350-odd employees of the hospital.

“It’ll be a very emotional moment for all of us when he’ll speak to doctors and staff for the last time as chairman,” said Mammen Chandy, director, Tata Medical Center. “We hope he will continue to visit the hospital.”

The foundation stone for the hospital in Rajarhat was laid in January 2006, four months before the Nano project in Singur was announced.

A hospital official recounted how Tata had taken personal interest in the Rs 350-crore project from the very beginning by providing inputs on the building’s architectural design to the type of stones to be used.

This meticulous, down-to-earth approach was hailed by shareholders too. “He has this habit of taking each and every question and coming up with a to-the-point answer in a simple way,” said Sunanda Awasthi, a regular at Tata Global Beverages AGMs for the past few years.

Another shareholder gave an August 31 spin to Tata’s final AGM tryst. “Friday happens to be the birthday of Richard Gere and Clive Lloyd, and for us Ratan Tata combines the charisma of Gere and the captaincy of Lloyd.”

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