The lesser-known half-brother of Ratan Tata: Noel Tata runs Westside

·3 min read
Tatas
Tatas

The Tata that runs Westside.

Noel Tata is in the news as being among the frontrunners to join the board of Tata Sons, the holding company of all the enterprises within the group. But who is Noel Tata?

The 63-year-old, is the half-brother of Ratan Tata, the former chairman of Tata Sons. While he is a known name within the company itself, outsiders have always known his far more illustrious brother, Ratan, who has been the face of the company even after his retirement.

Noel Tata, managing director of Tata International and chairman of Trent Ltd., speaks during an interview in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, June 20, 2019. For nearly a decade, Tata Group has been Inditex SA's partner running Zara stores in India. Now, the country's largest conglomerate is building its own apparel empire as trend-focused as Zara -- but at half the price. Photographer: Kanishka Sonthalia/Bloomberg
Noel Tata, managing director of Tata International and chairman of Trent Ltd., speaks during an interview in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, June 20, 2019. For nearly a decade, Tata Group has been Inditex SA's partner running Zara stores in India. Now, the country's largest conglomerate is building its own apparel empire as trend-focused as Zara -- but at half the price. Photographer: Kanishka Sonthalia/Bloomberg

How are Noel Tata and Ratan Tata related?

Noel Tata is the half-brother of Ratan Tata. Ratan Tata’s father was Naval Tata, who was adopted into the family from an orphanage by Navajbai and Ratanji Tata.

When he grew up, Naval Tata married Soonoo with whom he had two sons. He named the younger son Jimmy and the older one was named after his father, Ratan. Sometime in the mid-40s, Naval and Soonoo separated and some ten years later, he married Simone, a Swiss national who he supposedly met when she was travelling to India.

Noel Tata is Simone and Naval Tata’s son and thus the half-brother of Ratan Tata.

What does Noel Tata do?

Noel Tata may not be as much in the news as his half-brother Ratan Tata, but he plays several important roles in various Tata-owned companies. He is the chairman of Tata Investment Corporation, the vice chairman of Titan Industries, the managing director of Tata International, and the chairman of Trent, the company that owns Westside.

An alumnus of the University of Sussex, Noel Tata also studied at the International Executive Programme at INSEAD, the prestigious business school in France. He started off his career in the group at Tata International. The company deals with the overseas business of Tata Group.

At the turn of the century, Noel Tata took over Trent, the company that his mother Simone had founded. Trent is the parent company of the retail clothing store, Westside. Tata worked to make Trent profitable and by 2003 he was also appointed as the director of Titan Industries and of Voltas.

In 2010, Noel Tata became the MD of Tata International, the company where he had started off his career. This was around the time that Ratan Tata was set to retire and speculation was rife about who would take over. With Noel Tata in the news, the word on the street was that he could perhaps succeed Ratan Tata. However, it wasn’t him but his brother-in-law Cyrus Mistry who landed the job. Noel Tata’s wife Aloo Mistry is Cyrus’ sister. And, as we know, Cyrus’ father Pallonji Mistry is the single largest shareholder in Tata Sons.

Less than five years later, Cyrus Mistry was let go of as the Chairman of Tata Sons, making way for Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the former TCS boss to take over the reins.

In the meanwhile, Noel Tata has been working in the background, rising up to become the vice chairman of Titan and being included in the board of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust (named after his father). And should all go well, he’ll find himself on the board of Tata Sons.

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