Who was Cyrus Mistry – 10 facts about the business tycoon
On the afternoon of Sunday, 04th September 2022, a relatively young Cyrus Mistry (he was just 54) died in a tragic accident on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. An extremely reticent person and respected as a savvy businessman, Cyrus Mistry is often credited with turning around the fortunes of the Shapoorji Pallonji group. In a way, his death brings to an end the rather unseemly controversy that has been brewing between the Tatas and the Mistry families for the last 6 years.
Here are 10 interesting facts about Cyrus Mistry.
1) As one of the two sons of Pallonji Mistry, Cyrus is half owner of the 18.4% stake that the Shapoorji Pallonji group owns in Tata Sons. Over the last many decades much of the power and the profits of the Shapoorji Pallonji group came from this 18.4% stake. Cyrus Mistry’s father, the legendary Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry had already divided the stake between the two brothers, Shapoor and Cyrus.
2) Mistry has formidable academic credentials. He holds a graduate of civil engineering from the reputed Imperial College, London and also holds an MSc in management from the London Business School. Imperial College is ranked among the world’s top-5 institutions of higher learning in the field of engineering and sciences.
3) Mistry has several records to his credit. He became the managing director of the Shapoorji Pallonji group in the year 1994 when he was just 26 years old. He also has the distinction of becoming the youngest chairman of Tata Sons in the year 2012, when he was just 44 years old. We will dwell on this subject in greater detail later.
4) The Shapoorji Pallonji group had become shareholders of Tata Sons in 1930 against a loan extended by the grandfather of Cyrus Mistry to the Tata group. That was subsequently converted into an 18.4% stake in Tata Sons and has been a major bone of contention between the two families.
5) Cyrus Mistry represents one of the five most powerful Parsi business families in India. The other billion dollar Parsi business groups from India are the Tata group, Godrej Group, Wadia group and the Poonawala group.
6) Cyrus Mistry was the youngest and also the first non-Tata person to be inducted as the chairman of Tata Sons in the year 2012. His father Shapoorji Pallonji had been offered a board seat on Tata Sons in 2006 considering their long standing relationship and the stake held by the Mistry family. When Shapoorji Pallonji resigned from the directorship, Cyrus had been appointed in his place. Cyrus is known to have brought in a high level of customer orientation to the Tata group and many of the new age initiatives of the Tata group that we get to see today are ideas that Cyrus Mistry had worked on during his stint at the helm of Tata Sons.
7) However, his tenure came to an abrupt end in 2016 wherein his exit almost looked like a boardroom coup. While the reasons for the exit are still not too clear and could have to do with ownership and control issues, the purported reason offered by Tata Sons was that Cyrus Mistry did not deliver as per the requirements during his stint as the chairman. He also fell out with Ratan Tata on the future trajectory of a number of projects including the Tata Nano, European steel business, telecom business etc.
8) Even after his ouster from the Tata group, he refused the accept the reasons given by the Tata group and insisted that the Tata group was being less than transparent. The Mistry family and the Tata group sparred over several issues like the conversion of Tata Sons from public limited company to private limited company; the sale of stake in Tata Sons etc. However, with Cyrus Mistry not around any longer, that matter may now come to a quiet close.
9) Cyrus Mistry, who was born in the year 1968, is an Irish citizen by virtue of his mother being Irish. He is married to Rafiqa, daughter of the noted lawyer Iqbal Chagla and granddaughter of the legendary and iconic MC Chagla. One of his sisters is married to Noel Tata, who is the half brother of Ratan Tata. Clearly, the relationship between the two families is likely to continue for much longer.
10) Throughout his business career, Cyrus Mistry was always the enigmatic genius who defied a standard definition. His stint at the Tatas was equally steeped in mystery. In a sense, even his end remains as enigmatic as the person that Cyrus Mistry always was.
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