Srinath Narasimhan, Managing Director, Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd, will start his new role as the CEO of Tata Trusts from April 1, 2020.
Three years ago, a boardroom battle ensued that raised allegations of poor governance at Tata Sons, and Tata Trusts, with citations that their trustees were interfering with the running of the company. Tata Trusts owns 66 percent of Tata Sons, which were handled by a managing trustee along with 20 trustees until now.
The ousted chairman of Tata Sons, Cyrus Mistry, wrote to the government in December 2016 that the future of Tata Sons was in the hands of trustees of the Tata Trusts’ board. From that time, Tata Trusts has seen many high-level exits which included that of N.A. Soonawala.
Prior to R.Venkataramanan stepping down as managing trustee last year, Tata Trusts did not have the post of Chief Executive Officer. While the search for a CEO was on, Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts, and a group of trusted officials supervised the operations. The search for a CEO took about ten months and the search committee was led by Ratan Tata.
Venkataramanan’s exit had set in motion a tax scrutiny of his annual remuneration followed by the withdrawal of tax exemptions that the government had given to Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. Since the trust has a philanthropic purpose, his remuneration was not aligned, according to the tax department.
The new CEO’s roles, responsibilities, and powers will be similar to that of the Managing Trustee. Narasimhan has fulfilled different roles with Tata group including as Managing Director, Tata Communications, where he was recognized for helping turnaround a company that Tata had acquired from the government. He played an instrumental role in transforming the Indian entity into a global organization. Having joined Tata Administrative Services(TAS) in 1986, he has played a role in developing and guiding future leaders for different Tata group companies.
Another change in the Tata Trusts leadership is the appointment of Pramit Jhaveri, former CEO of Citi India, as a trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, effective February 12. Also, last year, Ratan Tata’s half-brother, Noel Tata became a trustee of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust. The Dorabji Trust happens to be the largest trust under the Tata Trusts umbrella while the Sir Ratan Tata Trust is the second-biggest one.
These changes in the leadership of Tata Trusts point towards a new era of the way these trusts will be managed and led. Over the last three years both Tata Sons and Tata Trusts have been under the spotlight with public allegations and boardroom battles. With these new appointments, it might be a sign that the group is ready to tackle the challenges of the future with a fresh perspective and instill a level of innovation.