By Aditi Shah
MUMBAI Ousted Tata Sons' chairman Cyrus Mistry on Tuesday defended his record at the company and said allegations that he oversaw rising expenses and impairment provisions as "another brazen attempt to mislead the public and shareholders."Mistry was ousted last month as chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company for the $100 billion steel-to-software Tata empire. Patriarch Ratan Tata is now back at the helm temporarily and a bitter public spat has since ensued between the two sides. Mistry, in a statement on Tuesday, said one reason for a rise in expenses under his tenure was because Tata Sons was bearing some costs on behalf of Tata's chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, while impairments and write downs were due to legacy issues.His comments were in response to Tata Sons' statement last week, which highlighted rising expenses and impairment provisions under Mistry."The challenges the group faced could not be wished away," Mistry's statement said, detailing the challenges that Mistry had inherited as chairman.Mistry said in the statement that the group had been bearing the costs for Ratan Tata, when he was chairman emeritus of Tata Sons and also chair of the Tata trusts, including his use of corporate jets and total office cost of about 300 million rupees in 2015.
The statement also said that the impairments at Tata Sons were due to legacy issues, largely relating to Tata Teleservices Ltd, and that Mistry had focused on building reserves and resources to handle the write downs. Tata Sons did not have an immediate comment and Ratan Tata could not immediately be reached for comment. Tata Sons is also looking to remove Mistry as chairman of several of the Tata group's companies. The group last week axed Mistry as chair of Tata Consultancy Services, a company in which Tata Sons owns more than 70 percent.
Mistry remains chairman of Tata Steel and Tata Motors, owner of Jaguar Land Rover.The automaker's board late on Monday gave Mistry a tacit nod, but stopped short of an outright endorsement.Tata Global Beverages, which co-owns and runs Starbucks coffee stores across India, became the first Tata group company whose board of directors on Tuesday voted to oust Mistry as chairman.
Seven out of 10 directors voted for Mistry's ouster and appointed Tata veteran Harish Bhat in his place.For Tata companies where Tata Sons does not have a majority stake, Mistry would have to be removed by a board vote. ($1 = 67.7453 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Rafael Nam and Jane Merriman)
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