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Tata's Trust Deficit

It’s ironical. Cyrus Mistry was seen as a convenient option rather than the best choice to head the Tata group. Now, his ouster seems to be proving anything but that

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Published 5 years ago on Dec 08, 2016 25 minutes Read

12.30 AM. October 11, Mumbai International Airport. A CEO of a large Mumbai-based company was waiting, along with his wife, to take the British Airways flight to London, scheduled to depart at 0215. After aimlessly strolling through the duty-free shops, the couple had settled in the first class lounge; from his cushy chair, the CEO recalls seeing a very prominent face seated a couple of metres away. There was still nearly an hour left for boarding and first class passengers have the luxury of boarding much later; but two airline employees had already arrived to assist the gentleman to get to the boarding gate. “He seemed a little out of sorts and his shuffling gait was a trifle odd. I remember saying to my wife ‘I hope all is well with him,’” says the CEO. That gentleman was Ratan Tata. Barely a fortnight later, on October 24, when he heard that Cyrus Mistry had been replaced as the chairman of Tata Sons, the CEO says he was shocked. “What could have been the provocation for Tata to do this, while in such frail health? He just didn’t seem to be in any state to take on something of that sort by himself,” he says with incredulity.