UK/India: UB chairman has less than 2 weeks to repay Diageo USD 135 million

The noose around Vijay Mallya's neck is tightening ever more. The (still) chairman of Indian beer market leader United Breweries (UB) with its main beer brand Kingfisher, and former chairman of companies like Indian largest spirits firm United Spirits Limited (USL),and the second largest Indian air travel company Kingfisher Airline, has less than two weeks to repay USD 135 million to Diageo. He wassentenced on 24 May by the UK High Court to pay this sum within 28 days to the UK-based spirits producer.

Diageo had concluded in February 2016 an agreement with Mallya, in which the company acquired a controlling stake in USL and Mallya stepped down after taking financial compensation. However, Diageo has not been able to access the acquired shares and hence approached the court for repayment and damages totaling USD 175 million. Next to the purchasing price of USD 135 million Diageo is claiming USD 40 million which was paid directly to Mallya as a compensation for stepping down as chairman (, 17.11.2017). The matter about this sum will proceed to trial at a later date

Moreover, the Indian endeavor to bring back Vijay Mallya from his refuge in UK to his home country in India is in its final stage. Chances for his successful extradition from UK look stronger than ever.

The fugitive beer and spirits tycoon, who fled to England to escape creditors and Indian tax authorities following the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines in 2013 is said to owe Indian state-owned banks USD 1.3 billion. The 63-year-old is living since the withdrawal of his Indian passport in April 2016 together with his 31-year-old son Sidhartha and his 92-year-old mother Lalitha either in his £15 million (USD 19 million) Hertfordshire estate or in his likewise expensive townhouse overlooking London’s Regent’s Park.

Besides these aforementioned houses and others already confiscated in India (, 19.4.2017), Mallya owns other expensive real estate properties around the globe, including a Trump Plaza Condo in New York, USA; a bungalow in Sausalito, California, USA; a mansion in Clifton Estate, Cape Town, South Africa; Le Grande Jardin on the Island of Sainte-Marguerite, France; the Mabula Game Lodge, Johannesburg, South Africa; and a castle in Perthshire, Scotland.

So far he was successful in avoiding his extradition but with his appeal against the district court’s order scheduled for July in the High Court, Mallya is most likely fighting now the last battle for his freedom with only a little chance to win.

In the meantime, Mallya is also facing hard times when going out in his adopted country. After attending India’s cricket match against Australia at the Kennington Oval in London on Sunday he was surrounded by a pushing-and-shoving crowd shouting "chor hai” (you are a thief) and "be a man, apologise to your country" to him as can be seen on a video.

Heineken, which holds a major stake in UB, is seeking for long to remove Mallya as chairman of the leading Indian brewery, but is unable to do so because of the Articles of Association.

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