For the first time, Tata Sons Ltd may have a chief executive officer (CEO) to help the 153-year-old business conglomerate expand further.
The introduction of a CEO is in line with a suggestion by India’s market regulator, SEBI, that the nation’s top 500 listed companies have a separate chairman and CEO by April next year.
Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata, 83, is reported to have approved the appointment. While the CEO will work towards expansion, the chairman will oversee the CEO’s work on behalf of shareholders, media reports said.
Several top functioning officials of the Tata Group are being considered for the post of the CEO, but no name has emerged yet. Besides, nobody from the Tata Group has confirmed that it is indeed hunting for a CEO.
Natarajan Chandrasekaran, who is the chairman at present, may continue in his post even after the end of his term in February, Bloomberg reported.
Task cut out for the CEO
The proposed CEO has several challenges ahead. Tata Steel is in the process of cutting a net debt load of $10 billion. On the other hand, Tata Motors has been consistently making losses for the last three years. The new CEO will also have to work extra hard to mobilise the Group’s plan to foray into the digital space and make the most of India’s growing online shopping craze.
The Tata Group also needs to speed up its plan to introduce an all-in-one e-commerce superapp to sell an array of consumer products and services.
With a workforce of 7.5 lakh employees, the Tata Group recorded combined annual revenue of $106 billion last year. India’s oldest conglomerate has successfully ventured into every segment from truck to salt.
In March this year, Tata Sons won a battle of “values and ethics” as the Supreme Court backed the removal of Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of Tata Group. The Supreme Court set aside the company law tribunal order of 2019 that had reinstated Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of the over $100 billion salt-to-software Tata Group. The court backed the removal of Cyrus Mistry.
Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata had then responded to the verdict on Twitter: “It is not an issue of winning or losing. After relentless attacks on my integrity and the ethical conduct of the group, the judgment upholding Tata Sons is a validation of the values and ethics that have always been the guiding principles of the group. It reinforces the fairness and justice displayed by our judiciary.”
The Mistry-Tata clash is one of the most high-profile and publicly fought corporate battles in the country.
A bench headed by then Chief Justice SA Bobde said the decision to remove Cyrus Mistry was right. “All questions of law are in favour of Tata Group,” said the judges.