Is Noel Tata down & out of the running?

Not so long ago, the view from Bombay House – especially amongst those who’d been with the TATA group for any length of time – was that the company needed a Tata at the helm after Ratan Tata retires, they’d almost suggest that this is what makes their company so special, and it was such talk that inflated Noel Tata’s hopes of one day succeeding his mega successful relative.

For this reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if Noel was miffed at reading Ratan Tata’s interview in the WSJ today, in which the iconic CEO makes it clear that the company has initiated a global search for the hot seat, and further to this, he’d prefer someone in his 40s – which effectively disqualifies his half-brother from the race.

Ratan Tata makes some great points, such as 65% of its revenues are booked outside India, making them truly a global winner, and that increasingly, their employee base is diverse and international – take for example, the UK where they employ almost 50,000 people – which in turn suggests that the firm requires a top calibre professional CEO with tons of commercial experience who can build on Ratan Tata’s success.

With the TATA’s the key thing to remember is that they, ultimately, always do what’s right. Handing such a treasure to someone just because they happened to be related simply won’t wash in today’s age. That’s why I used to be surprised when old hands at Bombay House use to suggest that Noel had a chance at being No1.

But, as all TATA commentators will tell you, Noel’s strength is simply that he has an influence in what happens through his father in law’s shareholding in the firm. Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, after all, is no ordinary man – he owns a 18% stake in the juggernaut that generates a revenue over $70bn. So, for this reason, and as much as I’d like a meritocracy to drive this decision, it may be the case that Noel is down today, but you’re warned not to count him out.

You can read the full article here: http://www.livemint.com/2009/11/18142605/Tata-scouts-the-globe-for-succ.html?pg=1