MUMBAI: Even as Tata Sons’s ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry started battling it out in the courts, his most vocal supporter — independent director on several Tata boards Nusli Wadia, opted to stay away from the crucial Tata Motors extraordinary general meeting held on Thursday.
The EGM, now that Mistry has stepped down from the board, was held to conduct a shareholders’ vote on a motion to remove Wadia from the board.
While the result of that vote had not been made public at the time of printing, Wadia wrote in a letter to shareholders, that he had chosen not to attend because of the inappropriate and “shamefully stage managed” way in which other EGMs called by Tata Sons had been conducted.
“I have chosen not to attend the meeting as I understand that recent meetings held of other Tata Companies have been inappropriately and shamefully stage managed by the requisitionist controlling the entry into the hall as also in the selection and choice of speaker as never before seen in Indian Corporate history,” he stated.
The rest of his letter dealt with allegations that Tata Sons had attempted to influence independent directors and the board of Tata Motors by way of using unsigned legal opinions to “influence, intimidate and muzzle” them from communicating with the stock exchanges.
Wadia also reiterated that the Nano was a bad investment that had been a serious drain on the company’s finances. He also said that the negative impact of issues in design, product, quality and execution had been directed from the top. “The division has high capital employed, high level of loss that impacts overall financials of the company,” Wadia pointed out.
Wadia reserved his most scathing criticism for what he called the attack against the institution of independent director. “What is at stake now is not whether I am removed or not but the fate of the very institution of the independent director,” he said, adding that the ability of the promoter to remove such directors would force them to “toe the line, resign or face removal”.