Tata group veteran and former Tata Sons director RK Krishnakumar passed away at the age of 84 in Mumbai on Sunday. He was also a trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, which together hold a 66% stake in Tata Sons.
Krishnakumar died of a cardiac arrest at his home at 6 pm. His cremation will be held at Chandanwadi crematorium at 4.30 pm on January 3, Tata group officials said.
A confidant of Ratan Tata, Krishnakumar (popularly known as ‘KK’) retired in 2013 at age 75 after 50 years with the conglomerate, during which he worked in many of the group’s companies. He was later actively associated with RNT Associates and the Tata Trusts.
Spiritually inclined, Krishnakumar was later actively involved in philanthropic activities through Tata Trusts.
“Words cannot describe the deep sense of loss I feel on the passing of my friend and colleague, RK Krishnakumar. I will always fondly remember the camaraderie we shared both within the group and personally. He was a true veteran of the Tata group and the Tata Trusts and will be missed dearly by all,” Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata said.
“RK Krishnakumar was a veteran Tata leader who made enormous contribution to the Tata Group over his lifetime. I had the good fortune of knowing him, and what stood out was his deep sense of compassion as a human being. He always wanted to help the less privileged and positively impact their lives. We pray for his departed soul and will sorely miss him,” said N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons.
Krishnakumar was appointed managing director of Indian Hotels in 1997, replacing the company’s long-time head, Ajit Kerkar. He stayed at the helm of Indian Hotels as vice chairman till 2013.
Krishnakumar had won Ratan Tata’s trust after successfully dealing with a crisis in Assam in 1997 when some Tata Tea employees were held hostage by the separatist group ULFA. He backed Tata when the late Cyrus Mistry was ousted in October 2016 as Tata Sons chairman.
Krishnakumar had been actively involved in the global expansion plans of Tata Global Beverages, now Tata Consumer, and that of Indian Hotels. He is survived by his wife, and son Ajit Krishnakumar who is the COO at Tata Consumer Products.
Krishnakumar began working for Tata Administrative Services in 1963 and joined Tata Global Beverages, then known as Tata Finlay, in 1965 and rose through the ranks working through the company’s transformation .
Krishnakumar received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in 2009 for his contributions to the country’s trade and business.