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Corus acquisition an aspirational mistake: Tata Steel former MD

IANS | Kolkata |

Tata Steel's former Managing Director JJ Irani on Friday said acquisition of Britain-based steel major Corus by the Indian steel producer was an "aspirational mistake".

On the recent spat between Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry, he said the former had never interfered in the board's decision. 

"Acquisition of Corus was a mistake. Not an intentional one but an aspirational mistake," Irani said at an interactive session on management organised by Calcutta Chamber of Commerce here.

Irani, who served as Managing Director of Tata Steel for almost a decade, said that the India steel producer acquired Corus (renamed as Tata Steel Europe) in 2007 when the global steel market was good but the subsequent downturn in global steel market turned the acquisition bad.

Irani said the Tata Steel management had cordial relations with the union in his tenure and with such cordial ties, the 78,000 odd strong workforces could be gradually reduced to 40,000.

"That decision to shed flab at that time has helped the company now to be one of the most profitable and efficient steel companies in India," he said.

Mentioning credibility as the single most important factor in management, Irani, described JRD Tata, who headed 50 companies, as master of management and as his icon. 

Asked about the row between Ratan Tata-Mistry that left to the latter's sacking, he said: "Ratan Tata had never interfered with the board decisions. Tata Sons' majority shareholder Tata Trust has lost the confidence on Mistry."

Irani, however, said the ongoing controversy in IT major Infosys unfolded that founding fathers like NR Narayanamurthy were interfering into the decisions of present board members.

"Interference, in my opinion, is not desirable," he added.