Tata Steel removes Mistry as chairman

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New Delhi (AFP)

India's Tata Steel removed Cyrus Mistry as chairman of its board Friday, as uncertainty grows over the fate of its huge loss-making British assets.

The move comes after Mistry was unceremoniously sacked last month as chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of India's most famous family conglomerate -- the $103 billion steel-to-salt Tata Group.

Tata Steel Limited (TSL) said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange that O. P. Bhatt, an independent director on the board, would replace Mistry until the outcome of an extraordinary general meeting on December 21.

The decision to remove Mistry was taken by "majority consent" at a meeting of the board of directors in Mumbai on Friday.

"The board of directors... has decided to replace Mr Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of the board with immediate effect," TSL said.

Tata has been considering several bids for its British assets since putting them up for sale in March, citing a global oversupply of steel, cheap imports into Europe, high costs and currency volatility.

The British government has been racing to help find a buyer for Tata's business, which had accounted for about 16,000 jobs, many of them at the Port Talbot steelworks in Wales, the country's biggest steel plant.

Analysts say patriarch Ratan Tata, who has taken interim charge of the family business, was saddened by the battering his company's reputation was taking in Britain over the uncertainty surrounding its steel assets.

A change in leadership could mean that the company was now willing to commit to its steel business in Britain, they say.