After a bitter eight-week boardroom battle against Ratan Tata's "illegal coup", ousted Tata Group Chairman Cyrus P Mistry today quit from the boards of six listed companies including Tata Motors and Indian Hotels and vowed to shift his fight to a "larger platform".
In a two-page statement and a recorded video message, Mistry, who was unceremoniously removed as Chairman of Tata Sons on October 24, said the objective of effective reform and best interests of employees, shareholders and other stakeholders of the Tata Group "would be better served by moving away from the forum of the extraordinary general meetings".
While Mistry, 48, did not specifically say he was resigning from either Tata Sons, where he still continues as a director despite being removed as chairman, or from the operating firms, sources close to him said he has quit.
Both sides told the media that operating companies will make regulatory announcements to the stock exchanges shortly.
Tata Sons, the holding company of the USD 103 billion group, has called extraordinary general meeting (EGMs) of listed companies to consider its proposal to remove Mistry as director on their board.
Calling his predecessor Ratan Tata coming back as interim chairman after his removal from Tata Sons as "illegal coup," Mistry said he had in his representation to shareholders detailed, "supported by documents, the governance breakdown in Tata Sons caused by actions of trustees of Tata Trusts."
"In recent weeks, the conduct of those at the helm of affairs has further unmasked the absence of ethical standards," he said.
Terming his fight as "movement for cleaning up governance and regaining lost ethical ground," he said, "It is time to shift gears, up the momentum and be more incisive in securing the best interests of the Tata Group."
He said he has decided to "shift this campaign to a larger platform and also one where the rule of law and equity is upheld".
Though Mistry did not elaborate on the platform, commentators said he might be considering moving courts against his ouster.
"I had initially not thought that one would need to seek an external forum to adjudicate issues that should never have arisen in the first place," he said. "I believe my actions today are consistent with protecting the long-term interests of the Tata Group."
Mistry said "by removing" himself from the EGMs, he is seeking to reinforce his consistent position that "this is not a fight for a position but a fight to more effectively secure long-term reform to keep the Tata Group on a sustainable path."
He thanked stakeholders for their support and urged them to continue to ask the right questions and demand the right actions.
"Events of the past eight weeks have been about saving a legacy. A legacy of values and ethics inherited from the founder of the Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata," Mistry said.
Tata Trusts, which controls about 66 per cent of Tata Sons, wielded no voting power until about 15 years ago.
Company law vested voting power in the hands by public trustee appointed by the government who would decide how to vote shares held by the public charitable trusts.
"My family's voting strength constituted the largest minority voice outside the government. In this role, over the decades, we consistently implemented the values and ethics of Jamsetji Tata and our actions protected this incredible institution," he said.