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United Spirits’ directors quit board

Three independent directors have quit United Spirits’ board days after Diageo launched an investigation into the company’s finances following a reported loss of £445m.

According to Live Mint and The Wall Street Journal, G.N. Bajpai, Arunkumar Ramanlal Gandhi and Vikram Singh Mehta have made themselves “unavailable for re-election” to United Spirits’ board.

Gandhi, former Tata group executive, and Mehta, a former chief executive officer at Shell India, were appointed directors last year after UK-based liquor company Diageo bought a controlling stake in the company in a deal worth £1.1 billion earlier this year.

It follows the company release of its end of year results last week, following numerous delays, which revealed a loss of £445 million prompting Diageo to launch an investigation into loans secured by the company.

All three of the men were also members of the company’s audit board.

Their resignations follow Vijay Mallya, billionaire chairman of United Spirits, being declared a “wilful defaulter” by the United Bank of India (UBI) amid claims he deliberately failed to pay an emergency overdraft lent to him to support his grounded Kingfisher Airlines venture.

A wilful defaulter tag prohibits an individual or company from accessing banks and capital markets for funding needs, calling into question his position as its chairman, and position on its board.

United Spirits produces the world’s second-largest whisky brand McDowell’s No.1, as well as the Bagpiper and Hayward’s Fine Indian whisky brands.

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