New Delhi: As the boardroom battle at the India’s largest conglomerate rages on, Tata Sons Ltd has asked Nusli Wadia to withdraw his legal notice saying there was nothing vindictive in its resolution seeking his removal as independent director on board of group firms.
Tata Sons, the holding company of the $103 billion salt-to-software group, is seeking to remove Wadia from boards of Tata Steel Ltd, Tata Chemicals Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd for allegedly galvanizing independent directors against the Tatas and acting in concert with Cyrus Mistry. Wadia, on his part, has served legal notices threatening to initiate civil and criminal proceedings against Tata Sons and its directors on the special notice sent to Tata Steel.
Rejecting the defamation notice as “misconceived and unfounded,” Tata Sons in a letter to Wadia said its notice seeking his removal was issued exercising its legal rights and obligations “not intended to lower” his reputation or defame him but “instead to take appropriate action in accordance with law.”
“It is denied that the contents of our Special Notice are defamatory as alleged or otherwise,” it said denying insinuations and motives attached by Wadia to the resolution.
It said Wadia’s relationship with JRD Tata and Ratan Tata, who was made interim head of the holding company after Mistry was ousted abruptly on 24 October, is a personal matter. “You would appreciate that Tata Sons and its directors will act in the interests of Tata Sons, its stakeholders and other Tata Group companies. If you have any respect for your association with Mr JRD Tata and Mr Ratan Tata, as mentioned by you, you would seriously consider withdrawing this notice,” it said.
Tata Sons said there is no legal or other requirement for it as a shareholder to provide any reason for seeking his removal.
Tata Sons went on to charge Wadia’s correspondence as “an attempt to try and carry on a media trial on the defamation notice.”
“It is denied that our Special Notice constitutes a personal vendetta against you or that it is vindictive action, as alleged or otherwise. It is denied that anything stated in our Special Notice was intended to or has caused damage to your reputation as a professional or has caused irreparable injury, as alleged or otherwise. It is denied that the Special Notice has been issued with malicious intent, as alleged,” it said.
The company hoped the defamation notice was not “an attempt to coerce our directors and officer not to perform their fiduciary obligations to Tata Sons Ltd and its stakeholders, when Tata Sons has decided to and issued the Special Notice.”
In a letter to Wadia, Tata Sons said as a 29.75% owner of Tata Steel it has “certain rights, duties and obligations” and it has exercised its right as a shareholder and issued Special Notice dated 10 November to the board of directors seeking removal. “The Special Notice would have undoubtedly been brought to your notice at the meeting of the independent directors of Tata Steel held on November 11, 2016. It is therefore indeed curious as to why your letters seem to ignore your knowledge of the contents of the Special Notice tabled at the meeting of the Board of Directors of Tata Steel on November 11, 2016 itself,” it wrote.