At Indian Hotels EGM, shareholders express concern over Tata-Mistry fight

Indian Hotels officials say the EGM was held for ‘technical reasons’ and it will give shareholders a chance to be heard


Some shareholders said they hoped Cyrus Mistry’s resignation will stop both camps washing dirty linen in public. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Some shareholders said they hoped Cyrus Mistry’s resignation will stop both camps washing dirty linen in public. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Mumbai: The shareholders meeting of Indian Hotels Co. Ltd was held on Tuesday despite Cyrus Mistry stepping down from the company’s board. It had been called to remove him as director.

Company officials said the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) had to be held for “technical reasons” and it will give shareholders a chance to be heard.

Shareholder speeches followed the script of the Tata Consultancy Services Ltd shareholders’ meeting, with some of them praising Ratan Tata.

Some also said they hoped Mistry’s resignation will stop both camps washing dirty linen in public.

ALSO READ | Cyrus Mistry fires first salvo in legal battle against Tata

Indian Hotels managing director Rakesh Sarna chaired the meeting.

Ratan Tata and independent directors Nadir Godrej and Deepak Parekh too were present.

Most shareholders in the meeting were concerned that the legal fight between Mistry and the Tata group could hurt shareholders and investors of Indian Hotels apart from eroding the Tata brand.

A total of 35 shareholders spoke at the EGM.

“Don’t go for litigation. Don’t blame Ratan Tata. It will affect the minority shareholder, said Chandni Ramani Mohan, a shareholder who spoke at the meet.

“Litigation should not be there. This tug of war will not benefit the minority shareholder,” Mohan added.

Another shareholder Ritik Shah also said that a legal fight will end up hurting the company’s name.

On Monday, Mistry vowed to continue the fight for governance reform in Tata companies by taking the matter to court.

ALSO READ | The options before Cyrus Mistry

Mistry will continue to remain a director on the board of Tata Sons Ltd, where his family owns a stake of a little more than 18%.

Few others urged independent directors, particularly Parekh and Godrej, to intervene in resolving the differences between the Tata and Mistry camps.

“Deepak Parekh should lead the independent directors and help in bridging the two groups. This is not the way the Tata Group runs business,” said a shareholder who was introduced by Sarna as Khambatta.

Similarly another shareholder Humaya Pardesi said Parekh should ensure that issues between the two groups are resolved and that ‘Tata’ name should not be tarnished.

However Parekh remained mum on his role in resolving the issues between the Tata and Mistry groups.

ALSO READ | Analjit Singh resigns from Tata Global Beverages board after Mistry ouster

“I’m with no one,” Parekh told reporters on the sidelines after the meeting was over.

Anil Goel, a former chief financial officer with Indian Hotels, who spoke at the EGM clarified some of the claims made by Mistry over the company’s acquisitions abroad and in India.

In a letter written to Tata Sons in October, Mistry claimed that Indian Hotels had acquired the Sea Rock “property at a highly inflated price and housed in an off- balance sheet structure”.

Goel said though the property was an expensive buy for the company it was “not overly paid”. He said the valuation of the property was done by independent parties and that “the project ran into approval hurdles”.

“The board took collective decision when the environment was different. Important is to fix and move on,” he said on the company’s overseas acquisitions.

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