Tata Sons’ shareholders discord may hit group cos: S&P

NEW DELHI, Nov 28:  S&P Global Ratings today said the continuing discord between the shareholders of Tata Group holding firm Tata Sons Ltd, has created uncertainty at the board level for group companies and could lead to slow decision-making in these entities.
Expecting the group companies to be all professionally managed, the US-based firm said that it hoped that all these firms will continue to deliver on their business and financial plans as they are “currently unaffected by the developments”.
“The continuing discord between the shareholders of Tata Sons Ltd (unrated), the holding company of the India-based Tata group, has created uncertainty at the board level for the group companies,” S&P Global Ratings said.
The Group companies which S&P rates are Tata Steel UK Holdings Ltd, Tata Steel, Tata Power, Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.
“We will review our assessment if we see greater control of Tata Sons over the board, strategy, and cash flows of individual companies,” S&P said.
S&P said it “notes” the sudden removal of Tata Sons Ltd. chairman Cyrus Mistry on November 4, and some independent directors, and allegations and counter-allegations on various matters raise corporate governance issues for various group companies.
“These developments could also affect investor confidence in the group, which is generally well-respected for its corporate practices.
“We believe the timely appointment of a new and well-respected chairman combined with strong independent directors can provide clear direction to individual companies and help restore the group’s credibility, and restore investor confidence in the group’s corporate governance practices,” S&P said.
The recent events at Tata Group could lead to slow decision-making at some of these companies, it noted.
“However, we believe that the companies are all professionally managed and will continue to deliver on their business and financial plans, despite the recent developments,” it said.
It also said that the  ratings on group companies Tata Steel Ltd., Tata Power Ltd., and Tata Motors Ltd already factor in the weakness of the European operations, of the Mundra plant, and of  the India operations, respectively.
“In our assessment, we consider Tata Sons as an unlisted investment holding company for the promoter group and do not factor in any direct support in assessing the credit profiles of individual ratings.
“We expect the Tata group to continue to manage and run the rated group companies independently with professional management, without intermingling funds,” it added.
S&P said that some Tata group companies such as Tata Steel and Tata Power have high leverage and are pursuing strategic measures for deleveraging; which may probably get delayed.
Unrelated to the recent developments, we have not built the success of some of these initiatives in our assessment of the credit profiles of these companies, it said.
“We also expect Tata Motors to benefit from the good operating performance of Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Consultancy Services to build on its business position and maintain its robust financial performance,” S&P said. (PTI)


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