The Telegraph
Friday , February 7 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Bigger Mistry role in Tata Motors

Mumbai, Feb. 6: Cyrus P. Mistry, the 45-year old chairman of the Tata group, is assuming a more hands-on role at Tata Motors after the tragic and untimely death of its managing director Karl Slym last month.

Tata Motors today announced that as part of an interim measure, a Corporate Steering Committee is being formed that will provide an “oversight of strategy and key aspect of the company’s operations”.

Mistry, who took over the reins of the Tata empire last year, will chair the committee.

More importantly, Mistry will chair new product design and engineering review meetings, Tata Motors said in a statement. The company indicated that the Tata group chief would oversee matters at the company at an operational level till a new managing director was appointed.

“I was deeply saddened by the tragic and untimely demise of Karl Slym, managing director of Tata Motors. To ensure leadership continuity, the board of Tata Motors has constituted a corporate steering committee to oversee strategy execution and key aspects of operations.

“The committee will be chaired by me, and will include the current executive committee members. The board expects to appoint a managing director in due course,” Mistry added.

It may be recalled that Karl Slym was found dead on January 26 at a hotel in Bangkok where he had gone to attend a meeting of the board of directors of Tata Motors Thailand Ltd. Slym, formerly with General Motors Company, had joined Tata Motors in October 2012.

Analysts had seen his sudden and tragic death as a setback for Tata Motors as Slym had been focussing on improving its domestic market share through a variety of measures.

Tata Motors holds a very important place within the Tata group as it had consolidated revenues of Rs 1,88,818 crore ($34.7 billion) in 2012-13, accounting for about 36 per cent of the group’s overall revenues of Rs 5,27,047 crore ($96.79 billion) in the same year.

Jaguar Land Rover has seen Tata Motors posting profits at the consolidated level. But the challenging conditions in India because of high inflation and rising interest rates, apart from growing fuel costs, had led to a sharp slowdown in the domestic automobile industry, severely impacting the performance of Tata Motors.

In the second quarter of this year, Tata Motors reported a loss of Rs 803.53 crore on a standalone basis.

Mistry said Tata Motors would “vigorously” pursue and deliver on the strategy which had already been defined and which Slym was executing.

This is not for the first time that a Tata group chairman has taken a more hands-on role at Tata Motors. Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of the conglomerate, had taken a personal interest in both the Tata Indica and the Tata Nano projects.

The auto maker has been making efforts to boost its market share in the domestic market. Last month, it announced a high-end variant of the Nano called the Nano Twist. More recently, it unveiled two all-new cars — a sedan called the Zest and a sporty, premium hatchback called the Bolt.

Plans are afoot to introduce new Nano variants and reignite the Indica and Indigo platforms.