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Having Mistry as Chairman a big advantage: Tata Power

Source: PTI
January 10, 2013 16:16 IST
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Tata Power is looking forward to drawing big advantage from Cyrus Mistry taking over as the $100-billion conglomerate's new chief, as he began Tata journey with this company and can relate to the business very well.

"Tata Power has a big advantage because Mistry was on the board of Tata Power for many many years. He started off in Tata Group with Tata Power," its Managing Director Anil Sardana told PTI in an interview.

"We have a big advantage because he (Mistry) knows Tata Power. Besides, he knows the infrastructure sector very well because he was managing director of Shapoorji Pallonji Group where his prime focus was infrastructure. He understands infrastructure and power. That is our biggest advantage," the Tata Power chief said.

Sardana said that Tata Power was one of the first companies where Mistry became the Chairman.

"He (Mistry) became Chairman of Tata Power on November 28, one month before he assumed chairmanship of many other companies. We have that coveted distinction of having him as first chairman amongst all other Tata companies," he added.

"It is an advantage if someone knows that they can relate very quickly... His inputs are almost impromptu (about the subject). That is the advantage," Sardana said.

The 44-year-old Mistry took over as Tata Group chief after Ratan Tata's retirement from the position on December 28. Besides succeeding Ratan Tata as Chairman of Tata Sons Ltd, the group's holding company, Mistry has also taken over as Chairman of various group firms including Tata Power.

Talking about the former group chief, Sardana said that the issues at the group's flagship power project, Mundra UMPP (Ultra Mega Power Project) in Gujarat, has been a matter of great concern for Ratan Tata and those concerns are shared by Mistry as well.

The 4,000 megawatt UMPP, being set up with an estimated investment of about Rs 20,000 crore, has been known as one of the pet projects of Ratan Tata, who stepped down as Tata group chief on December 28, 2012 and has been succeeded by Mistry.

The imported coal-fired Mundra plant, the country's first UMPP, is grappling with rising fuel prices which are hurting the mega project's financial viability. Three 800 MW units are generating electricity while the fourth unit was recently synchronised -- the final step before commissioning.
Tata Power, the country's largest private power producer with an installed capacity of 7,699 MW, has sought higher tariff for the plant and the issue is pending before the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

SAAsked whether Ratan Tata was concerned about the financial viability and other issues faced by the Mundra project, Sardana said that the former Chairman was very proud of the work done by the team.

"He visited the project last year and appreciated the project... However, he is and he was worried about the fact that a solution needed to be evolved rather quickly," he said.

Mistry accompanied Tata during his visit to Mundra, Sardana said, while adding that the new Chairman also shares the concerns of the group's former chief.

On Ratan Tata himself being part of a team of power sector executives that met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year to request certain steps to help the sector, Sardana said it presumably shows that he was concerned about the state of power sector in the country.

"He used to say that power sector is an important sector and therefore economy should get all the inputs that the power sector needs to provide for its sustainability. So my guess that he would be concerned if things in the power sector don't move," Sardana added.

Against the backdrop of environmental concerns being raised against Mundra project, Sardana said that Tata was not concerned about "falsehood".

"He (Tata) in his tenure has seen so many such protests ... Once he has seen, reviewed and satisfied for himself that our team is doing a genuine work, then he leaves it to the team to deal with the situation.

Sardana said that what worried Ratan Tata about the project were the issues of financial viability being faced by "such a nice national facility which will impact Tata Power very significantly".

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