The battle for control of India’s largest conglomerate, Tata Group, has led to the opening of a new front, with independent director Nusli Wadia telling Tata Trust to withdraw its allegations against him or face legal action.
The 148-year-old company, with over 100 operating firms, has been witnessing an acrimonious boardroom battles since chairman Cyrus Mistry was removed from the Tata Sons holding company on October 24 and replaced by former chairman Ratan Tata.
Tata Trust is looking to remove Mistry from the operating companies as well and they see Wadia, 72, as a stumbling block, claiming that he has been acting with Mistry against the group.
Wadia sent a letter to Tata Sons directors on Monday denouncing the November 11 notice issued by the board demanding his removal as independent director of Tata Steel.
He demanded that Tata Sons withdraw its notice or prove its allegations within two days, failing which he would take up civil and criminal proceedings.
On November 10, Wadia, along with other independent directors, had supported Mistry’s chairmanship at Tata Chemicals.
Wadia alleges that this made Tata Sons “vindictive” and demand that he be removed from the board of Tata Steel, where he has been a director for nearly four decades.
His letter said: “I must remind you that as an independent director, my only fiduciary duty is towards Tata Steel and not an undefined Tata group or Tata companies.”
Wadia, who owns textile company Bombay Dyeing, food company Britannia and an airline GoAir, was a childhood friend of Ratan Tata, helping him to consolidate his chairmanship of the conglomerate in a battle against the old guard in 1991.