Introduction to Vijay Mallya 👨💼
Vijay Mallya (born 18 December 1955) is an Indian businessman and former Member of Parliament. He is the ex-chairman of United Spirits Ltd, the largest spirits company in India and continues to serve as chairman of UB Group, an Indian conglomerate with interests in beverage alcohol, aviation infrastructure, real estate and fertilizer among others.
Mallya has been a highly controversial business tycoon in recent years due to accusations of money laundering, tax evasion and being a wilful defaulter on loans amounting to ₹90 billion (US$1.3 billion). He left India in 2016 owing more than US$1 billion in defaulted loans and has refused to return to face charges despite repeated extradition requests by Indian authorities. His extravagant lifestyle, love for fast cars and yachts along with his brash personality has often landed him in the headlines.
Early Life and Education 👨🎓
Vijay Mallya was born in a Goud Saraswat Brahmin family in Bantwal, Karnataka to Vittal Mallya and Lalitha Ramaiah. His father was an Army doctor as well as Chairman of United Breweries Group while his mother was the first female Chairperson of United Breweries Ltd.
Mallya did his schooling at La Martiniere Boys’ College in Calcutta and obtained his bachelor’s degree in commerce from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta in 1976. While in college, Mallya interned in his family businesses to gain experience.
Business Career 💼
After the sudden demise of his father in 1983, Mallya was made the Chairman of United Breweries Group at the young age of 28. He consolidated the various businesses his father had built from scratch into a cohesive portfolio.
Over the years, Mallya acquired many companies abroad, turning United Breweries Group into a global conglomerate with interests across industries like alcoholic beverages, life sciences, engineering, agriculture, chemicals, information technology etc. Some of the major companies under UB Group include United Spirits, United Breweries Ltd, UB Engineering Ltd and Kingfisher Airlines.
However, many of Mallya’s ambitious business moves have backfired. His most spectacular failure was Kingfisher Airlines which collapsed under massive losses and debt after just 7 years of operation. Its collapse led to a series of loan defaults by Mallya that ultimately ruined his reputation in the Indian business community.
Mallya has been embroiled in many controversies during his career. Some of the main allegations against him are:
- Defaulting on loans – Banks claim that Mallya has failed to repay loans worth over ₹90 billion taken for his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
- Tax evasion – Government agencies accuse Mallya of evading taxes and laundering money. He left India to escape prosecution.
- Lavish & indulgent lifestyle – Despite his mounting debts and liabilities, Mallya continued to indulge in a lavish lifestyle with expensive cars, yachts and properties across the world, attracting criticism.
- Diversion of loan funds – It is alleged that Mallya diverted portions of the loans taken for Kingfisher Airlines to fund his Formula One racing team, a cricket team and personal needs.
- Wilful defaulter – Banks declared him a ‘wilful defaulter’ in 2014 which means he did not repay loans despite having the capacity to do so.
Extradition Case 🚔
Mallya fled India and moved to London in March 2016 as banks started closing in on him for loan defaults. However, based on a formal extradition request by India, a London court ruled in December 2018 that Mallya can be extradited to India to face fraud charges amounting to Rs 90 billion.
Mallya has appealed against his extradition which is pending final decision as of July 2022. Meanwhile, he continues to defend himself by claiming that all his business failures were due to genuine reasons and not fraud. The extradition case is being keenly watched in both India and UK.
Net Worth 💵
Despite his collapsed empire, Mallya still has a net worth estimated at around $1.5 billion as of 2022, according to Forbes. While most of his wealth is tied up abroad, Indian authorities are trying to seize his assets. Reports suggest Mallya lives a lavish life in London off the millions he made by selling shares of United Spirits to Diageo in 2012-14.
At his peak in 2008, Mallya was the 7th richest person in India with a net worth of over $2 billion (Rs 8000 crores). However, his current real net worth is subject of much debate due to his concealed assets and extensive liabilities.
The rise and fall of Vijay Mallya is one of the most sensational stories in Indian corporate history. He built a huge business empire from his father’s small beer company but then lost most of it due to his own imprudent decisions, especially the disastrous acquisition of Kingfisher Airlines. His future remains uncertain as he awaits the final ruling on his extradition back to India. Mallya insists he has become a victim of circumstances while his critics allege his troubles are mostly self-inflicted due to greed and corruption.