The managing director of India's biggest carmaker, Tata Motors, has died in Bangkok where he was attending a meeting. Thai police say they believe that Karl Slym committed suicide when he fell from a high-rise hotel.
Karl Slym, a 51-year-old British citizen, died on Sunday after falling the 22nd floor of Shangri-La hotel, where he had been staying with his wife.
Slym had been in Thailand to attend a board meeting of Tata's Thai affiliate, the company has confirmed.
"Tata Motors deeply regrets to announce the untimely and tragic demise of its Managing Director, Karl Slym, in Bangkok earlier today," #link:http://www.tatamotors.com/media/display-press-releases.php?id=922:said a statement on Sunday.#
"Karl Slym was in Bangkok to attend a meeting of the Board of Directors of Tata Motors Thailand Ltd."
Note found, say police
Police said investigators had found a note left in the room, which was being analysed to confirm whether it was written by Slym. The note apparently referred to domestic problems.
"Initially, we can only assume that he committed suicide," said police lieutenant Somyot Bunnakaew.
"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 would have 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," Bunnakaew said.
Indian press reports on Sunday speculated, however, that Slym might have lost his balance and plunged to his death.
Slym hired to revive Tata
Slym was hired in 2012 to revive Tata's flagging sales and market share in India, the world's sixth-largest automotive market by unit sales, and led its operations in international markets like South Korea, Thailand and South Africa.
His death sent stocks falling on Monday by more than six per cent, closing at 347.80 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
"His death comes at a time when the company seems to be close to turning the corner," Anil Sharma, an analyst with researchers IHS Automotive, told the Reuters news agency.
"It comes before his efforts bear fruit. We should be able to see the results in a year or two," said Sharma.
On his personal Twitter profile, Slym described himself as a "Britisher who just can't stay away from India!! Crazy for most sports and loves to know whats going on everywhere!! And hearing from everyone!!"
Tata Chairman Cyrus P. Mistry said Slym was providing leadership in the company during a difficult market period, describing him as "a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry."
"In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with Karl's wife and family," Mistry said.
jr/ipj (Reuters, AP, AFP)