R. K. Krishna Kumar

R. K. Krishna Kumar
Born Thalassery, Kerala, India
Other names KK
Occupation Business executive
Known for Tata Sons
Spouse(s) Ratna
Children Ajit
Parent(s) Sukumaran
Awards Padma Shri

Rayaroth Kuttambally Krishna Kumar is an Indian business executive and a former director of Tata Sons.[1] He is a member of Tata Administrative Service and continues to serve as a trustee of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust[2] and Sir Ratan Tata Trust, which hold 66 percent stake in Tata Sons.[3] His contributions are known behind several acquisitions of Tata Group, including the GB£ 271 million buy-out of Tetley in 2000, which made Tata Global Beverages the second largest tea company in the world.[1] The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2009, for his contributions to Indian Trade and industry.[4]


Krishna Kumar was born in Thalassery, in the south Indian state of Kerala, to Sukumaran and Sarojini,[5] and did his schooling at Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, in Chennai where his father served as the Police Commissioner.[6] His graduate studies were at Loyola College, Chennai after which he secured his master's degree from the Presidency College, Chennai of the University of Madras with first rank. He started his career by joining Tata Administrative Services in 1963[7] and was posted at Tata Industries where he worked for two years.[8] In 1965, he was transferred to Tata Global Beverages, then known as Tata Finlay, and worked through the re-branding of the company as Tata Tea, to become the vice president of South India Plantations in 1982.[9] He was promoted as the joint managing director of the company in 1988 and, three years later, he became the sole managing director, to stay at the post till 1997 when he was moved, as the head of the division, to Indian Hotels Company, the hospitality division of Tata Group which includes Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. It was under Kumar's leadership, Tata Tea formed a jointed venture with Tetley, UK in 1992, and, later, acquired the British company on a GB£ 271 million buy-out to become the second largest tea business in the world, reportedly the largest overseas take-over by an Indian firm till that time.[10]

Kumar headed the Indian Hotels Company from 1997 to 2002, till his appointment to Tata Sons, the holding company of the Group, as a member of the board of directors.[11] A year later, he retired from the Board and went back to Indian Hotels Company as its vice chairman and the managing director, and stayed on the job till 2007 when he joined Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, one of the principal stakeholders in Tata Sons, as a trustee.[8] In 2009, he promoted RNT Associates, a private investment company of Ratan Tata, the then chairman of the Tata Group and the incumbent chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, to assist startups and new companies in India.[12] He also joined Sir Ratan Tata Trust,[13] another stakeholder of Tata Sons, as a trustee, but continued to sit in Board of Directors of Tata Sons, till he retired from the board on 18 July 2013, on reaching the age of 75, the prescribed age for retiring.[8]

Kumar's efforts have been reported during the Assam Crisis of 1997 when ULFA activists held Tata Tea employees as hostages and during the 2008 Mumbai attacks when The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was under siege.[1] Even after retirement, he continues his association with Tata Group through his trusteeships at the two major stakeholders of Tata Sons,[14] and is now based at Tata Trust office in Elphinstone building, at Horniman Circle Gardens, Mumbai.[8] He also holds the directorship of RNT Associates, along with his long-term associate, Ratan Tata.[15] The Government of India included him the 2009 Republic Day honours list for the civilian award of the Padma Shri.[4] He is married to Ratna and the couple has a son, Ajit.[5]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Ratan Tata's right-hand man 'KK' retires". Times of India. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  2. "Sir Dorabji Tata Trust Trustees". Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  3. "Krishna Kumar set to hang up boots at Tata Sons". Business Standard. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Personality". Thalassery.com. 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  6. Kumar, Krishna (March 2011). "I have been able to find a balance within myself" (Interview). Interviewed by Christabelle Noronha. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  7. "Tata Sons' Director R K Krishna Kumar retires". Hospitalitybizindia.com. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "RK Krishna Kumar set to begin new innings with Ratan Tata at RNT Associates". Economic Times. 23 June 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  9. "Tata Coffee press release". Tata Coffee. 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  10. "Tetley bagged by India's Tata". BBC News. 27 February 2000. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  11. "Executive Profile Krishnakumar Rayaroth Kuttambally". Bloomeberg. 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  12. "Inside Ratan Tata's vehicle for investment". Business Standard. 13 September 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  13. "The Trustees". Sir Ratan Tata Trust. 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  14. "India's response to global weakness inadequate". Money Control. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  15. "Tata, Ajit". India Today. 15 September 1997. Retrieved 2 March 2016.

Further reading

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