United Spirits’ chairman faces exile

Billionaire chairman of United Spirits, Vijay Mallya, has been declared a “wilful defaulter” by the United Bank of India (UBI) calling his position as chairman of the company into question.

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

As reported by the International Business Times, the ruling comes following a long-running court dispute over a loan of US$66 million, taken out by Mallya with UBI.

UBI claimed Mallya deliberately failed to pay an emergency overdraft lent to him to support his grounded Kingfisher Airlines venture.

Mallya attempted to challenge the claims in court, but was unsuccessful.

UBI has now become the first to officially brand Mallya a “wilful defaulter” and recommended his removal from United Spirits’ board.

The decision was reportedly taken after Kingfish Airlines officials failed to show up for a meeting with UBI.

Three other directors of Kingfisher Airlines have also been declared “willful defaulters” by UBI over the loan.

Other banks seeking to declare Mallya a wilful defaulter include the Punjab National Bank, IDBI bank, and the State Bank of India, according to reports.

A wilful defaulter tag prohibits an individual or company from accessing banks and capital markets for funding needs.

As chairman of both United Spirits, which was recently acquired by Diageo in a £1.1 billion deal, and United Breweries, concerns have been raised that the tag could prevent the companies from accessing bank funds.

Diageo currently owns a 55% of shares in United Spirits.

USL is yet to publish its full-year sales results for 2013/2014, thought to be due to the company’s inability to explain loans of approximately 1,400 crore (around £140m) to parent company United Breweries Holdings, during which time billionaire Mallya was leading the group.

The drinks business has contacted Diageo for comment.

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