Noel Tata inches closer to top after new appointments

Tata Group's retail venture Trent said today it has appointed Noel Tata – the man who would be king - as an additional director of the company with immediate effect. Tata will be the company's non-executive vice-chairman, Trent said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Noel TataThe company said on 29 July that Noel Tata, half-brother of group chairman Ratan Tata, will step down as the managing director of Trent Ltd on 12 August in view of his appointment as the managing director of Tata International Ltd. (See: Noel Tata appointed new MD of Tata International)

The role of the 53-year-old Noel Tata has now got bigger in India's biggest conglomerate on the 106th birth anniversary of group doyen J R D Tata, setting tongues wagging yet again on it being a step in the group's succession plan for top job.

Earlier this month, the reclusive Tata, who grew the retail business more than 10-fold in less than a decade, was appointed managing director at Tata International, a leather and engineering trading company with presence in 10 African nations - a region where it says it wants to double revenues to $1 billion in two years.

Last month, Tata became a non-executive chairman at Tata Investment Corp, a finance company with a portfolio of investments, including Tata Mutual Fund.

Observers feel the latest appointment may be to expose him to diverse businesses that he lacks experience in, despite making a success out of Trent.