HYDERABAD, India — The largest business group in India, Tata Sons, on Wednesday appointed an insider whose family owns about 18 percent of the company to succeed its longtime chairman, Ratan Tata.
The successor to Tata, Cyrus Mistry, will take over as chairman in December 2012 after serving as deputy chairman for a year, instantly catapulting him from a relatively little-known executive to the head of a global empire. Tata Sons, based in Mumbai, is the holding company for an $83.3 billion group that includes companies engaged in industries including software, cars, steel and the Taj hotel chain.
Mistry is a member of the selection committee that had been searching for Tata’s successor and a member of the board of Tata Sons, which is not listed on the stock exchange even though many of its subsidiaries are. In addition, Mistry is the managing director of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, a real estate and construction business that owns about 18 percent of Tata Sons, more than any other noninstitutional investor. About two-thirds of Tata Sons is owned by charitable trusts established by the Tata family.
Mistry, 43, has said that he will step down from his position at Shapoorji to avoid any conflict of interest.
Tata is often credited with reviving ailing businesses and turning Tata Sons into a global company by investing in software outsourcing and by acquiring foreign companies like Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover and Corus. He has been at the helm of the group since 1991.