Ratan Tata was involved fully in the DoCoMo loop: Mistry

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Mum: Inbai yet another signal that Cyrus Mistry has no intention of retreating from battle, he shot off his third sharply-worded defence-cum-offence aimed primarily at Ratan Tata and Tata Sons since being sacked as chairman of the holding company of India’s largest conglomerate.

Amid persistent reports that one of the principal reasons for his ouster was his handling of the dispute with telecom partner NTT DoCoMo, Mistry on Tuesday hit back, saying “all decisions (relating to DoCoMo) were taken with the unanimous approval of the Tata Sons board” and the concurrence of Ratan Tata.

“Throughout the process, Ratan Tata and NA Soonawala were kept informed and they participated in separate meetings held with Mr Mistry. They also participated in the meeting with the legal counsel (who also happened to be a trustee of the Dorabji Tata trust) who represented Tatas in the litigation. At all times Ratan Tata and Soonawala concurred and approved the course of action adopted by Tatas and as advised by legal counsel,” a statement issued by Mistry’s office said. In fact, all decisions were ” collective decisions and the actions were consistent with every such collective decision… To suggest Mr Mistry acted on his own, or contrary to `Tata values’ or without the knowledge and/or concurrence of Ratan Tata and Soonawala, is as false as it is mischievous,” a statement issued by Cyrus Mistry said.

Tata Sons and DoCoMo have been in a legal battle since the end of 2014 over the amount of money the Tatas have to pay DoCoMo for the Japanese telecom major to exit the joint venture. After Mistry was removed, media reports had quoted Tata sources to say that he was coming in the way of an amicable settlement with DoCoMo.

The eight-point statement begins by saying, “Insinuations that the DoCoMo issue was handled under the watch of Mistry in a manner inconsistent with Tata culture and values are baseless. The suggestion that Ratan Tata and the trustees would not have approved of the manner in which the litigation was conducted is contrary to what transpired.”

It goes on to say, “A number of discussions on the Docomo situation had been held in the Tata Sons board. Mr Mistry had always mentioned that the Tatas should honour all commitments within the law. This stance is based on Tata Sons’ board view and was always consistent with the series of board meetings in which the Docomo issue was discussed.”

Mistry’s office said that the agreement with DoCoMo was executed before he became the chairman of the Tata Group. In 2009, when Ratan Tata was chairman of Tata Sons, the company brought in the Japanese telecom major as a partner in Tata Teleservices. DoCoMo had paid $2.6 billion for a 26.5% stake in Tata Teleservices.

After Mistry was ousted, he, in a letter to the board of Tata Sons on October 25, had criticised the original partnership structure of the venture with DoCoMo and said it raised “several questions about its appropriateness from a commercial or prudential perspective within the then prevailing Indian legal framework”.

In January 2015, DoCoMo had moved courts after Tata Sons said that Indian laws did not allow it to buy back the Japanese company’s stake at a pre-agreed price of $1.2 billion. In June 2016, DoCoMo won a $1.2 billion arbitral award from a London court and moved courts to enforce the award in India, US and UK jurisdictions. Later, Tata Sons deposited $1.2 billion with Delhi high court.

Mistry’s statement added that the Tatas had requested DoCoMo to join them in seeking the approval from Reserve Bank of India, but the Japanese company did not agree.

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