Home / Companies / News /  'Time to separate': Shapoorji Pallonji Group agrees to exit Tata Sons

New Delhi: Shapoorji Pallonji Group on Tuesday said it's time to exit from Tata Sons after a relationship that spanned 70 years turned sour in the last few years.

"The Shapoorji Pallonji-Tata relationship spanning over 70 years, was forged on mutual trust, good faith, and friendship," the company said in a statement.

"Today, Shapoorji Pallonji Group stated before the Supreme Court that separation from Tata Group is necessary due to potential impact this continuing litigation could have on livelihoods and the economy," the company said.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Mistry family believes that a separation of interests would best serve all stakeholder groups," said Shapoorji Pallonji Group in a press statement.

This essential means that the SP Group, which holds 18.4% stake in Tata Sons through its two investment firms, is willing to sell their stake and move out of the company.

This statement comes after a protracted legal battle which started in December 2016 after Cyrus Mistry was ousted as Chairman of Tata Sons in October 2016.

SP Group said Tata Sons has been taking "value destructive business decisions" ever since Mistry's sacking.

"It is extremely unfortunate that the current leadership of Tata Sons has not only continued to take value destructive business decisions in a misguided effort to prove a point in these proceedings. It is a matter of public record that several issues identified years earlier, continue to plague the group. Be it the operations of Tata Steel UK, where over the last three years alone the operational losses have increased by an additional 11,000 crores, or the Group’s aviation businesses.

"These actions, or lack thereof, have meant that the total debt in the major Tata group companies has increased by approximately 100,000 crores in the last three years. Excluding TCS, the last quarters losses of all the listed group companies of approximately 14,000 crores causes great concern. Unfortunately, the impact of these actions continue to hurt minority shareholders, be it the SP Group at Tata Sons or the millions of shareholders of the listed companies in the Tata Group," said SP Group.

(Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma)
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(Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma)

"Tata Sons has amplified its institutional efforts to suppress and inflict irreparable harm on the SP Group, in the midst of a global crisis triggered by the COVID Pandemic. The 150 year old SP Group – is the second largest construction group in the country, executing projects of national significance in India and abroad.

"The Mistry family were in the midst of raising funds against the security of their personal assets to meet the crisis arising from the global pandemic. This move was undertaken to protect the livelihoods of its 60,000 employees and over 100,000 migrant workers. The action by Tata Sons to block this crucial fund raise, without any heed for the collateral consequences is the latest demonstration of their vindictive mind-set," the company further said.

The Supreme Court Tuesday restrained till October 28 the Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group and Cyrus Mistry from pledging or transferring their shares in Tata Sons Pvt Ltd (TSPL).

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian also directed the Tata Sons and the SP Group not to take any further action on the shares which have already been pledged till October 28, the next date of hearing.

The SP group, which owns 18.37 per cent in Tata Sons, had said TSPL moved the top court to block its plan to pledge shares for raising funds and that reeked of vindictiveness and oppression of minority shareholder rights.

On September 5, Tata Sons had moved the top court seeking to restrain the Mistry group from raising capital against their shares.

Through the plea, the Tatas had sought to prevent the SP Group from creating any direct or indirect pledge of shares.

The SP Group was planning to raise 11,000 crore from various funds and had signed a deal with a marquee Canadian investor for 3,750 crore in the first tranche against a portion of its 18.37 per cent stake in Tata Sons.

The SP Group share holding in the country's largest business house is valued at over 1 lakh crore. In a hearing conducted through video conferencing, the top court said that it would hear the plea after four weeks and “in the meantime, parties shall maintain status quo regarding pledging/transfer of shares".

“We will say status quo on transferring/pledging and any further action with regard to transfer/pledge already made," the bench said.

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for the SP group, said they were being stopped from pledging the shares and “it is creating havoc for me".

On the other hand, senior advocate Harish Salve, representing TSPL, said that the point was “something else" as the TSPL has a right to buy the share at market price, but the SP group was pledging them.

“We are of the view tentatively that pledging is a limited transfer," the bench observed while saying that it will “conduct final hearing in four weeks".

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