Pallonji Mistry, the former chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, passed away at the age of 93 at his home in Mumbai on Tuesday morning.
Mistry, who owned more than 150-year-old construction business and 18.4% stake in Tata Sons, is survived by his wife Patsy, daughters Laila Rustom Jehangir, Aloo Noel Tata, sons Shapoor Mistry and Cyrus Mistry.
Born on June 1, 1929, Mistry joined his family business, Shapoorji Pallonji & Company Ltd, in 1947, under the watch of his father, Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry. He took over the reins of the company in 1975, when his father passed away.
Unlike his father, who focused largely on construction and had grown the business manifold over the several decades he was in charge, Pallonji was quick to spot new opportunities that India's industrialisation and growing economy presented.
Towards the end of the 1960s, Pallonji had the foresight, confidence, and determination to venture abroad. Construction in the Middle East, fuelled by petrodollars, was booming. Under Pallonji's leadership, the company bid for, and won, a tender to build the Palace of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said in Muscat.
When HM Sultan opened his Muscat Palace for visitors in 1975, it not only established Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) as the first Indian construction company to have completed a project abroad, but the Palace also became a showpiece of Indian capabilities to the world.
The Muscat Palace became the gateway of trust and opportunity for other Indian companies to venture abroad, as well as for the government of India to take stock of the nation's potential and policies.
This also provided a launching pad for SP to consolidate its presence in the Middle East and foray successfully into Africa, where it has executed several landmark projects such as the Presidential Office of Ghana, the National Assembly of Gambia, and the Ebene IT Park in Mauritius.
Under Pallonji's chairmanship, the company grew substantially in the later decades of the last century. He also acquired strategic stakes in other companies and brought them within the fold of the SP Group, companies such as Sterling & Wilson, United Motors, Forbes Gokak and Afcons Infrastructure.
Over the years, he served on the boards of several companies and organisations, namely Union Bank of India, W H Brady Group of Companies, The Associated Cement Companies Ltd. (ACC) of which he was also chairman for several years, and Tata Sons Ltd.
His vast business experience of over 60 years was spread over diverse streams of businesses, from construction to real estate to industry to infrastructure to trading to power generation to information technology and other sectors.
In early 2012, Pallonji stepped down as chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji And Company, the operating and holding company of the SP Group, and handed over the chairmanship to his elder son Shapoor Mistry.