Industrialist Vijay Mallya, reeling under the impact of the grounding of Kingfisher Airlines, has been struck by another thunderbolt with the United Spirits Limited board deciding that he be removed as chairman because it has lost faith in him after a PricewaterhouseCoopers into the company’s books found “improprieties and violations.”
As per the deal with Diageo Plc in November 2012 when it bought a majority stake in USL, Mallya was to continue as chairman for five years. .In a meeting held on Saturday, an enquiry report was submitted by MD and CEO Anand Kripalu that showed certain doubtful receivables, advances and deposits.
Mallya has been fighting with his back to the wall with a rapid erosion of his credibility since the first signs appeared of the failure of his much-heralded airline. While he is in a soup on the finances of Kingfisher Airlines, regulatory investigations will presumably be under way even in regard to the USL brewery operations. The airline owes Rs 7,600 crore to 17 banks. In February 2012, the banks had formally declared loan recall on KFA and begun recovery process. So far, they have recovered around Rs 2,000 crore by selling pledged shares. They are now working on selling two other pledged properties – Kingfisher Villa in Goa and Kingfisher House in Mumbai.
Already, United Bank of India has won a legal backing on its decision to declare Mallya and other top executives of the airline as wilful defaulters. State-run PNB and IDBI Bank, and private lenders Federal Bank and Axis Bank are also in the process of doing the same.
It is not just Kingfisher Airlines which is on a downward spiral. A flawed business model, as many analysts see it, is threatening to pull down the foundation of USL the cash cow of Vijay Mallya’s UB Group. USL’s earnings history shows that the company has been facing trouble on three fronts—operational inefficiency, debt issues along with group liabilities and muted investments.
The only thing that seems to work in USL’s favour is volume. However, high volumes are not translating into profits. It is the huge debt which is pulling down the company. Vijay Mallya’s indeed is a story of how businesses should not be run.