Trusts currently has only one representative on the board of Tata Sons—Venu Srinivasan, who is vice-chairman. Noel, 63, was appointed a trustee of the philanthropic organisation in February last year. “I won’t be surprised if Noel comes on the board of Tata Sons,” said a person close to the development, adding that the two Tatas had grown close.
Noel had backed Ratan Tata in the battle against his brother-in-law Cyrus Mistry, who was ousted as group chairman.
The senior Tata is also believed to be close to Noel’s three children, who work in the conglomerate. Another person close to the Tatas confirmed that Noel’s induction in the holding company was being seriously considered.
In an e-mailed reply to TOI, the office of Ratan Tata said he “does not wish to comment”.
Tata Sons’ Articles of Association state that Trusts can nominate a third of the directors on the board of the holding company as long as it holds at least 40%. Trusts, a cluster of more than a dozen charitable organisations, owns twothirds of Tata Sons.
There are at present eight directors at Tata Sons. Of them, two, including chairman N Chandrasekaran, are executive, the others non-executive. Of the rest, three are external/independent directors, and Srinivasan, who is also chairman of TVS Motor Company, is a ‘non-independent director’ at Tata Sons.
If Noel comes on the board of the main investment company, then he will be the only member of the founding family to occupy a seat at both Tata Sons and Tata Trusts. Noel’s mother Simone was a director of the second main investment company, Tata Industries, till she retired in 2006.
If these changes come through at the holding company, it’ll be interesting to see how the leadership dynamics play out within the broader Tata Group, say keen Bombay House watchers. The Parsi community, to which Noel belongs, and some Tata veterans such as Noshir Soonawala, have been lobbying with Ratan Tata for a Tata family member to be on the board of the holding company of the $113-billion automobile-to-aviation conglomerate.
Apart from Noel, Pramit Jhaveri, also a trustee, is being considered by Trusts for the board of Tata Sons. Jhaveri, who was till recently Citi India head, was inducted to the board of Trusts in February this year.