Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym dies after falling from hotel floor in Bangkok

karl SlymIn a bizarre incident, Karl Slym, the managing director of Tata Motors Ltd died on Sunday after falling from a high floor a hotel in Bangkok. Mr Slym, 51, had attended a board meeting of Tata’s Thailand unit in the Thai capital, a company spokeswoman said, giving no further details. A post-mortem report is due on Monday, she said.

A native of Britain, Mr Slym was hired in 2012 to revive flagging sales and market share in the domestic business of India’s biggest automaker, which is part of the Tata conglomerate.

“His death comes at a time when the company seems to be close to turning the corner, with new designs and a new petrol engine family, which hasn’t been Tata’s strong point,” said Anil Sharma, an analyst with IHS Automotive. Tata Motors recently introduced a new petrol engine for its passenger vehicles and has been planning to launch a new hatchback and compact sedan this year, its first new branded passenger vehicles since 2010.

“It (his death) comes before his efforts bear fruit. We should be able to see the results of his work in a year or two,” Sharma said. Mr Slym led the automaker’s operations in India and international markets including South Korea, Thailand and South Africa, excluding the Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) luxury unit that it acquired in 2008.

As part of restructuring exercise Mr Slym last week had announced a voluntary retirement scheme to a section of employees to rationalise costs.  Mr Slym “was providing leadership to the company through a challenging market environment”, the company said in a statement on Sunday.