Pallonji Mistry dies at 93

Mistry, who was the single-largest shareholder in the Tata Group with an 18.37 per cent holding in the over $100 billion conglomerate, was 93.
Pallonji Mistry
Pallonji Mistry

NEW DELHI: Billionaire Pallonji Mistry of the USD 5-billion Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group having its roots in the construction business died in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Mistry, who was the single-largest shareholder in the Tata Group with an 18.37 per cent holding in the over $100 billion conglomerate, was 93.

India-born and educated Mistry, who had later acquired Irish citizenship, died mid-sleep at 0100 hrs at the family residence in South Mumbai, company officials said.

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed grief at the death, calling him a doyen of infrastructure and building industry. “His contribution to wealth creation and nation building will be long remembered,” Kovind said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted that he is saddened by the passing away of the billionaire who made “monumental contributions to the world of commerce and industry”. Born in 1929, Mistry headed the privately held, over $5-billion SP Group having its roots in the construction business. He took the Group to markets beyond India, where it successfully delivered several marquee projects like the Palace of Oman’s royalty in Muscat, among others.

Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, the billionaire realtor and industrialist, and Chairman Emeritus of the venerable Shapoorji Pallonji Group, passed away at his home here late last night, official sources said here on Tuesday.

The reclusive business icon was awarded with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, in 2016. He joined the family business in 1947 as an 18-year-old and took over as chairman following his father’s demise.

The over $5bn Sharpoorji Pallonji Group started in 1865 with a notable construction history dating back to 1887 - Littlewood Pallonji & Co was one of the companies that helped to build a large Malabar Hill reservoir - is now a global diversified conglomerate with 18 major companies operating in six business segments - engineering and construction, infrastructure, real estate, water, energy and financial services. He took the Group to markets beyond India, where it successfully delivered several marquee projects like the Palace of Oman’s royalty in Muscat, besides diversifying the group.

With a workforce of over 50,000 in over 50 countries, the group has developed several mega and iconic structures like RBI headquarters,

SBI, HSBC, Grindlay Bank, Hongkong & Shanghai Bank and others in south Mumbai, besides other major infrastructure projects.

The Group had also produced the iconic Hindi film, K Asif’s ‘Mughal-EAzam’ (1960), then the most expensive one and till date it reigns among the top popular movies of Bollywood.

He is survived by four children, including Cyrus Mistry, who succeeded Ratan Tata as Chairman of the Tata Group in 2012 before being ousted unceremoniously in 2016. His daughter Aloo is the wife of Noel Tata, Ratan Tata’s step-brother. The Tata Group stake had been passed down from his father Shapoorji Mistry, who picked up a stake in the 1930s, and Pallonji had very good relations with Ratan Tata and was well regarded in Bombay House, the Tata Group headquarters.

In 2012, Pallonji stepped down as the chairman of the group, handing over the responsibility to his other son Shapoor.

A note from the Group said Pallonji “embodied the Zoroastrian virtues of ethics, integrity, fair play in all dealings” and gave back to the society “without any fanfare”.

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