Vijay Mallya won’t sell ‘family silver’

Business

Vijay Mallya does not have to do a deal with UK drinks giant Diageo and will not sell prized assets to rescue his grounded Kingfisher airline, he said over the weekend.

Speaking in his office at Force India, the UB Group head poured scorn on media reports that he would be forced to sell stakes in profitable businesses to fund Kingfisher.

"That is the media perspective of what I am going to do. I am not so sure that I lack commercial acumen to the extent that I would sell a hugely thriving, successful business to take the cash and put it into an airline in an environment such as India," Mallya said.

"My group is sufficiently cash-generative to fund the airline as we have done. We have put almost 150 million pounds since April 2012 into the airline. But that has not meant that I have had to sell my family silver to fund the airline."

Mallya has been talking to Diageo about selling a stake in his United Spirits. Earlier this weekend he said he was unsure whether or not he would agree terms with the firm.

"I do not have to do a deal with Diageo at all," said Mallya. "I am under no compulsion whatsoever. But having said that, I will do what is good ... for myself, my family wealth and for long-term shareholder value."

"I must do that for every business because these are public companies and I owe it to the shareholders and stakeholders in these companies," he said. "Selling assets to fund the airline? No plans of that nature whatsoever."

Mallya said Kingfisher had to be dealt with professionally, but he wanted it to survive. "The environment and government policy must also encourage me to do that," he said, cigar in hand. "So we are going to give it our best shot."

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