Pallonji Mistry passes away at 93

Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry (93), the former chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group passed away ‘peacefully’ on Tuesday at his home in south Mumbai, his family said in a statement

He is survived by his wife Patsy, daughters Laila Rustom Jehangir, Aloo Noel Tata, sons Shapoor Mistry and Cyrus Mistry, and their respective families. An Irish citizen, he mostly stayed in India and always remained low profile.

Called the ‘Phantom of Bombay House’ (the headquarters of Tata Group), Mr. Mistry held 18.4% stake in Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group making him the single largest individual shareholder. His younger son Cyrus was chairman of the Tata Group for a few years till 2016.  

Mr. Mistry was born on 1 June, 1929 and did his schooling and college education in Bombay and joined his family business, Shapoorji Pallonji & Company Ltd, in 1947 at the age of 18. He took over the reins of the company in 1975, when his father passed away.

Towards the end of the 1960s, Mr. Mistry ventured abroad and largely participated in the construction boom in West Asia, which was fuelled by petrodollars. Under his leadership, the company bid for and won a tender to build the Palace of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said in Muscat.

“When HM Sultan opened his Muscat Palace for visitors in 1975, it not only established Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) as the first Indian construction company to have completed a project abroad, but the palace also became a showpiece of Indian capabilities to the world. It was hailed as a construction marvel and acknowledged so,” Shapoorji Pallonji And Company said in a statement.

“The Muscat Palace became the gateway of trust and opportunity for other Indian companies to dare to venture abroad, as well as for the Government of India to take stock of the nation’s potential and policies,” the statement added.

Under him the company had executed several landmark projects such as the Presidential Office of Ghana, the National Assembly of Gambia, and the Ebene IT Park in Mauritius.

Under Mr. Pallonji’s chairmanship, the company grew substantially in the later decades of the last century. He also acquired strategic stakes in other companies and brought them within the fold of the SP Group, companies such as Sterling & Wilson, United Motors, Forbes Gokak and Afcons Infrastructure.

Over the years, he served on the boards of several companies and organisations, namely Union Bank of India, W H Brady Group of Companies, The Associated Cement Companies Ltd. (ACC) of which he was also chairman for several years, and Tata Sons Ltd.

In early 2012, Mr. Pallonji stepped down as chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji And Company Pvt. Ltd., the operating and holding company of the SP Group, and handed over the chairmanship to his elder son Shapoor Mistry.

In recognition of Mr. Pallonji’s enormous contributions to Indian industry and nation building over six decades, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 2016.

The Shapoorji Pallonji Group, established in 1865, celebrated 150 years of its existence in 2015. This was when his son was the chairman of Tata Group and that was the last time when Mr. Mistry was seen in the public. 

“He died peacefully as he was unaware of the ongoing disputes between Tatas and his family, and the financial mess his group has landed at” said a person close to him.  

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 9:19:55 pm |