Mistry hits back, says all decisions on Docomo approved by Tata Board

RSTV Bureau

File photo of Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry. (PTI)

In the Mistry versus Tata saga, ousted Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry has again hit out at the Tata Board. This time Mistry has alleged that it was ‘false and mischievous’ to suggest that he acted on his own or without the knowledge of Ratan Tata on the Tata-Docomo matter.

All decisions on Tata-Docomo deal were taken with approval of Tata Sons Board and actions were consistent with every such collective decision, said a statement issued by Mistry’s office.

“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,” said the statement.

Reiterating that the agreement with Docomo had been executed before Mistry became executive chairman of the Tata Group, the statement said: “All decisions were taken with the unanimous approval of the Tata Sons board. In fact, all decisions were collective decisions and the actions were consistent with every such collective decision.”

Tata Group is entangled in a legal tussle with Japanese firm, NTT DoCoMo. DoCoMo had in November 2009 acquired 26.5 per cent stake in Tata Teleservices for about Rs 12,740 crore (at Rs 117 per share) with an understanding that in case it exits the venture within five years, it will be paid a minimum 50 per cent of the acquisition price.

DoCoMo, in April 2014, decided to exit the joint venture that struggled to grow subscribers quickly and sought Rs 58 per share or Rs 7,200 crore from the Tatas.

But the Indian group offered Rs 23.34 a share in line with RBI guidelines that states that an international firm can only exit its investment at a valuation “not exceeding that arrived at on the basis of return on equity”.

The Japanese firm then dragged the Tatas to international arbitration where it won a USD 1.17 billion award.

Tata Sons has said they will resist enforcement of the arbitration award in India as also other jurisdictions as it has been barred by Indian law and public policy.

The statement by Mistry’s office further said the Tatas under his leadership requested Docomo to join them in seeking approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which the estranged Japanese partner didn’t agree.

“Nevertheless, the Tatas applied to RBI for approval. Since RBI approval was not forthcoming, Docomo initiated arbitration. The award was passed in favour of Docomo and against the Tatas,” it added.

Tatas did not challenge the award in the UK. On the contrary, RBI was approached once again by the Tatas for permission to pay the amount awarded. RBI again refused permission, the statement said.

“When Docomo sought enforcement of the award in the Delhi High Court, in order to show their bonafides, Tatas deposited a sum in excess of Rs 8,000 crore in court,” it added.

Mistry has said that at all times Ratan Tata and trustee NA Soonawala were kept informed and they concurred and approved the course of action adopted by the Tatas and as advised by legal counsel in the litigation.

“In light of the above facts, to suggest that 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,” the statement by Mistry’s office said.

(With inputs from PTI)