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Another balcony death put down to suicide

The managing director of India’s biggest automaker Tata Motors Ltd Karl Slym , died after falling from a hotel room in Bangkok. The police believe that his death was a suicide.

51 year old Slym, a British citizen was staying with his wife in a room on the 22nd floor of the Shangri-La hotel. He had attended a board meeting of Tata Motors’ Thailand unit in Bangkok. Hotel staff found his body on Sunday on the fourth floor, which juts out above lower story of the complex.

Police Lieutenant Somyot Boonyakaew said “We didn’t find any sign of a struggle,we found a window open. The window was very small so it was not possible that he could have accidentally slipped. He would have had to climb through the window to fall out because he was a big man. From my initial investigation, we believe he jumped.”

File photo of Karl Slym, managing director of Tata Motors, looking on during news conference in MumbaiHe went on to say that the police found a three page note written by Slym’s wife who said that she wanted her husband to know some personal things and admitted that the couple, who had been married for thirty years, had argued. The couple had no children.

Thai police said they were called to the Shangri-La hotel around 7:45 a.m. on Sunday after staff found Slym’s body. They woke up Slym’s wife, who looked shocked when she was told what had happened to her husband. An autopsy has been conducted however the cause of death has yet to be released.

A Tata Motors spokeswoman declined comment on the possible cause of Slym’s death. A company statement on Sunday said Slym provided leadership in a challenging market environment.

Slym was driving a turnaround in the company’s domestic operations. Investors worried about potential delays to these plans after his death sent shares in Tata Motors down as much as 6.7 percent on Monday in a broader market that fell more than 2 percent. The stock ended 6 percent lower.

“He had been given a sort of free hand. For another professional to step in and enjoy the same confidence, with this same management, is difficult, it will take time,” said Deepesh Rathore, director of Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors, based in Gurgaon, India.

Slym was hired in 2012 to revive Tata’s flagging sales and market share in India, the world’s sixth-largest auto market by unit sales. Tata Motors is part of the sprawling software-to-steel Tata conglomerate.

“His death comes at a time when the company seems to be close to turning the corner,” said Anil Sharma, an analyst with researchers IHS Automotive. “It comes before his efforts bear fruit. We should be able to see the results in a year or two.”

Tata Motors recently introduced a new petrol engine for its passenger vehicles and was planning to launch a hatchback and compact sedan this year, the first all-new Tata-branded passenger vehicles since 2010.

Slym led the automaker’s operations in India and international markets including South Korea, Thailand and South Africa, but he was not responsible for the Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) luxury unit that Tata Motors acquired in 2008.

Friends described Slym as a jovial man who loved cricket and Indian films. He was also active on Twitter, often promoting Tata Motors products and avidly commenting on sports.

On his Twitter profile, Slym described himself as a “Britisher who just can’t stay away from India!! Crazy for most sports and loves to know what’s going on everywhere!! And hearing from everyone!!”

“He was quite an affable, chilled-out, cool guy … He loved cricket and Bollywood like any Indian,” said Hormazd Sorabjee, editor of Autocar India and a friend of Slym’s.

“From his point of view, at Tata Motors there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tata Motors had lost traction in the Indian passenger vehicle market as domestic and foreign rivals rolled out new models while it mostly tweaked existing models and offered heavy price discounts.

The firm has not had a hit car at home since 1998. Sales of the Nano, the world’s cheapest car which it unveiled in 2008, have been lackluster.

Before joining Tata Motors, Slym was executive vice president of SGMW Motors, China, a General Motors joint venture. Before that he had headed General Motors in India.

Source – Reuters

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