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Tata Motors boss - suicide suspected

Monday, January 27 14:29:07

Karl Slym, managing director of India's biggest automaker Tata Motors, died after falling from a hotel room in Bangkok in what police said today may have been suicide.

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

"We didn't find any sign of a struggle," Police Lieutenant Somyot Boonyakaew, heading the investigation, told Reuters.

"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."

Boonyakaew said police found a three-page note, written in English to Slym by his wife, which they were translating into Thai. An autopsy on Slym's body was conducted on Monday, police said without elaborating.

A spokeswoman for Tata Motors declined to comment on the possible cause of Slym's death. A company statement on Sunday said Slym had 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.