K. Giriprakash
Boby Kurian

Toulouse (France)/ Bangalore, April 25

IT is official now. The UB Group Chairman, Mr Vijay Mallya, has said that his son, Mr Siddharth, will be his successor, but will have to wait for a few more years to move into the centre stage.

On May 8, when his son turns 18, Mr Mallya will launch Kingfisher Air and the next day, the inaugural flight of the airline will take place on the Mumbai-Bangalore route. "He is definitely going to be my heir, but will have to work from the bottom before he gets the reign of the airline or any other company," Mr Mallya told Business Line.

However, for starters, Mr Siddharth will be made a director on the board of United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd. Kingfisher Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd. Mr Mallya said his son would have to start from the bottom of the ladder before he could hope to get anywhere close to holding an important post in his group. "I was 27 when I was thrust into running the group because of my father's (Vittal Mallya) death," Mr Mallya recalled. The late Vittal Mallya inducted his son into UB's international business in the late 70s, and later made him the head of Carew Phipson, the smallest of the spirits companies in the group fold, in the early 80s. "I started off with a salary of Rs 400 in my father's company," Mr Mallya, 49, recalled.

Several UB officials associated with Mr Vijay Mallya's younger years reminisced how the current Chairman struggled to revamp the marketing and packaging of Phipson's brands such as Royal Reserve (now discontinued) and Blue Riband at a time when it was a sellers' market and liquor products could be parcelled as commodities.

"I have never believed in the top down approach," Mr Mallya said on bringing his son into the business. He said his son is only 18 years-old and wouldhave to work at a junior level before getting to the top.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 26, 2005)
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