Subtle sign of Tata shift

Mumbai, Feb. 6: The Tatas finally have a chief ethics officer ' 44-year-old Mukund Rajan who has been pitchforked into a multi-faceted role where he will double as the brand custodian for the group.

Rajan will also oversee the group's corporate social responsibility (CSR) portfolio.

This is Cyrus Mistry's first big appointment since taking over as chairman of the $100-billion group and sends out a subtle yet powerful signal of change from Bombay House that will ripple through the over 100 companies that form the Tata group.

In a letter sent to Tata group employees last month, Cyrus Mistry had signalled his "commitment to maintaining the highest ethical standards in the conduct of our enterprise" ' and Rajan's appointment as chief ethics officer seems a logical step in that direction. But it was not immediately clear what the role of the brand custodian would be.

Rajan is stepping up to the plate from his current position as managing partner of Tata Opportunities Fund, a private equity fund sponsored by Tata Capital. Earlier, he was managing director of Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra).

An alumnus of IIT, Delhi, a Rhodes scholar and a product of Tata Administrative Service, Rajan was former group chairman Ratan Tata's executive assistant for 12 years. He has also served as VP-chairman's office at Tata Sons, the group's holding company.

The additional roles for Rajan will include that of group spokesperson with the responsibility to oversee and manage all corporate communications and brand related activities for the group in India and overseas. His appointment is with immediate effect. He will report directly to Mistry.

Sources said the role of the chief ethics officer would be to ensure that all group companies adhere to the Tata group's strict code of conduct.

While Tata is a respectable brand in India, its international equity has been growing over the past few years with various overseas acquisitions. The brand also covers a wide range of industries, ranging from salt and IT services to steel and automobiles.

In a related announcement, Tata Capital announced that Padmanabh Sinha would replace Rajan as managing partner of Singapore-based Tata Opportunities Fund. Sinha was earlier the chief investment officer of the fund. Bobby Pauly will become partner of the advisory team.

The announcement said Mukund Rajan would become a member of the advisory board of Tata Opportunities Fund, which was launched in 2011 and manages around $600 million from marquee global investors.

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