Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata named Cyrus Mistry, a comparative unknown, to replace him at the helm of the $83 billion conglomerate next December, India's Financial Express newspaper reports.
The appointment ends years of speculation about potential successors to Tata, who along with Wipro's Azim Premji and Infosys's Narayana Murthy is one of the country's most respected business leaders.
Mistry, 43, holds a large number of shares in the Tata Group. Previously, he was the head of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, a construction firm, where he increased revenue from around $20 million to $1.5 billion, the paper said.
He has been a board member at Tata Sons, the umbrella firm for the group's largest businesses, since 2006.
Tata's exit will mark the departure of one of contemporary India's most successful leaders. Ratan built on the company's legacy of steel manufacturing to energize Indian manufacturing after liberalization in 1991. Most prominently, he proved that Indian car makers could compete on an even footing with international brands with the introduction of Tata Motors' Indica hatchback (India's first indigenously developed car) in 1998.
Since then, he has gained international attention with massive scale acquisitions of Tetley Tea (2000), Corus steel (2006) and Jaguar Land Rover (2008) -- buys that announced India's arrival as a multinational player -- as well as the launch of the Nano.
Tata's international ambitions are likely to continue under Mistry, the Financial Express suggests.
At Shapoorji Pallonji, Mistry expanded from pure construction to designing and implementing complex projects in the marine, oil & gas, and rail sectors. The Group also extended the presence of its construction business across 10 countries under his tenure, the paper said.
Mistry also helped diversify the group’s business into power generation, road building, and agriculture and biofuels, leasing 50,000 hectares in Ethiopia.