Jamshedpur: The curiosity on the much-awaited announcement of the heir of Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Sons, refuses to die as speculations are ripe that the salt-to-software conglomerate is likely to announce the name by end of this year.

Though the company has not yet disclosed any details about the names in the reckoning, sources revealed that a high level committee constituted to find a new heir of Tata Sons has shortlisted three names out of 11 people who were examined for the purpose.

According to the sources, out of the initial list of 11, two are from the executive office which overlooks company’s various activities. R Gopalkrishnan, Ishaat Hussain, Kishor Chaukar and Arunkumar Gandhi are among those who were interviewed in this office, but names of the two selected candidates are still under cover.

However, the much acclaimed name of Noel Tata, step-brother of Ratan Tata and Tata International Chief, who was earlier considered to be the frontrunner is now lagging behind.

Ratan tata in his interview to an international magazine had said, “Noel is not entirely ready to take up the responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the search panel is keen to enable the new heir in giving opportunity to the heir to work as an associate with Ratan Tata atleast for a year.

Those present in the panel are Non-executive Director of Tata group, R Krishna Kumar, former Vice-chairman NN Sonawala, Cyrus Mistry, Britain businessman Lord Kumar Bhattacharya and Group advocate Shirin Bharucha.

Ratan Tata is set to retire in December 2012 when he turns 75. According to the convention of the Tata Group, the retirement age of non-executive director was 75 years which has now been reduced to 70 years.