Assuming the battle does not get ugly and ends-up in Court, let us see the likely potential candidates, who could become the next Chairman of Tata Sons, after the board replaced Cyrus Mistry with an interim Chairman.
The most likely candidates are one who have high integrity, understand the Tata group ethos and have some understanding of international businesses. The last because of the significant presence of the Tata group across the globe, including the famed Jaguar Landrover operations and Corus in Europe.
Who are the likely candidates?
Industrialist, Harsh Goenka has been tweeting ever since Cyrus Mistry was replaced by interim Chairman, Ratan Tata. His latest tweet was on the likely candidates and those were: N. Chandrasekaran, Ravi Venkatesan, Sanjay Jha, Shantanu Narayan and Nandan Nikelani. And, if you are looking at international exposure, you have to consider current MasterCard President and CEO, Ajay Banga and PepsiCo, CEO Indra Nooyi.
However, the list is not limited to these and we do not know, who might finally emerge. But, three of the top candidates everyone seems to be reporting on include Indra Nooyi, Noel Tata and N. Chandrasekaran. Let us look at what some of these individuals bring to the table and their drawbacks as candidates.
N. Chandrasekaran, CEO of TCS has been flashing as a favorite for a number of reasons. He is relatively young, is a man of high integrity and heads the most profitable company in the Tata stable, TCS. He has spearheaded TCS for a number of years and knows the ethos of the Tata Group very well.
The problem in getting Chandrasekaran to do the job right now is one and one only - he is needed at the helm of TCS more than ever before. TCS has been reporting quarterly results that have lagged estimates and it seems to be getting worse every quarter, as IT spendings are slashed. It is challenging times for TCS, as growth seems to have peaked and his presence at the IT major, may be required.
The CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, is on top of the list. Heading the world's second largest food and beverage company in the world should make her an obvious choice, because it also comes with rich international experience. Moreover, managing international operations is an advantage that you bring to the table, given the scale and size of JLR and Corus of the Tata group. However, the Tata group is extremely diverse and makes everything from steel to salt.
Noel Tata is the the son of Naval and Simone Tata. He is the Chairman of Trent and Managing Director of Tata International. A part of the Tata family would be a big positive for him. However, managing of the scale and size of the Tata group is never going to be easy.It is complex with international operations and some major restructuring and sale at Tata Steel (Europe). Not to mention Tata Dokomo and issues there.
Nandan's name is also being thrown-up, but, we do not thing he is really the top contender.
Nandan co-founded Infosys with six others under the leadership of Narayana Murthy. The only disadvantage for Nandan would be that he would not bring along the diverse experience as a few others. Also, we are not sure on the expertise and financial acumen to manage a thing like Corus mess. Corus as readers might know was the $12.1 billion acquisition and the biggest global acquisition made by an Indian company, which many describe as a "millstone around Tata Steel's neck."