The move also opens up the possibility of Noel Tata getting into the board of Tata Sons. Mails sent to Noel Tata, Ratan Tata and Tata Sons did not elicit a response.
In 2019, Noel Tata, the half-brother of Tata Trusts’ chairman Ratan Tata, was appointed as a trustee of Sir Ratan Tata Trust for a three-year term. The Tata Trusts hold two-thirds of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group.
In another significant move, the Tata Trusts has raised the age limit of trust nominees on the board of Tata Sons to 75 years, highly placed officials close to the development said. The move has also been ratified by Tata Sons board. Following this change, former bureaucrat Vijay Singh, who stepped down from the Tata Sons board in 2018, is likely to be reappointed as a Tata Trust nominee, it is learnt. Vijay Singh is one of the two vice-chairmans of the Tata Trusts, the other being Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Group.
Changes Expected in Trusts
The age limit for independent directors on Tata Sons board is already 75 while that for nominees of Tata Trusts and Tata Sons was 70.
“The complexities of the businesses have increased significantly and therefore the need to induct people with experience who can contribute to the growing requirement of the conglomerate,” a source said, explaining the need to raise the age limit at Tata Sons board.
A few nominees of Tata Trusts on the board of Tata Sons are expected to step down soon and their replacements will be announced by the Trusts. The Trusts themselves may see some changes. “There are some significant changes expected to the Trusts in terms of addition of new trustees,” said a person close to the development.
About 66% of the equity capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts endowed by members of the Tata family. The biggest of these trusts are the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust.
The move to raise the age limit for non-executive directors is a reversal of the 2011 move by the Tata Group to lower their retirement age to 70 from 75 years. This was done at the behest of the selection committee appointed to find a suitable candidate to take over the reins from Ratan Tata.
Interestingly, Noel Tata shed his executive responsibilities at the Tata Group in November, having stepped down as the managing director of Tata International after turning 65, in line with the retirement policy. The Tata Group mandates executive directors to retire from executive positions at 65 and from all board positions at 70.
Noel Tata, however, will continue to hold a non-executive post as chairman of Trent, Tata Investment Corp., Voltas and Tata International. He is also vice chairman of Titan.
ET in its edition on January 9, 2018 had reported that NA Soonawala, a former finance director of Tata Sons and a legendary figure in the Tata Group, was keen to have Noel Tata on board of the Tata Trusts. Not just Soonawala, even the closely knit Parsi community is seen to be rooting for a Tata to be inducted on the board of the trustees.
Noel Tata’s induction on the board is seen as a clear signal that the philanthropic Trusts set up in 1892 will continue to have a Tata family member to steer its over a century old legacy.