Board can’t remove me, shareholders will have to decide, claims Vijay Mallya

K Giriprakash | | Updated on: Jan 23, 2018


'Diageo has not given me a proper hearing’

Vijay Mallya has won almost all his corporate battles so far. He expects to win the latest one with Diageo as well. Alleging fund diversion to Kingfisher and other United Breweries group entities, Diageo-owned United Spirits Ltd on Saturday asked Mallya, its erstwhile promoter and current Chairman, to quit the board. USL, in which Diageo bought a controlling 55 per cent stake for about $3 billion, asked Mallya to step down after “various improprieties and legal violations” were found in a probe into loans worth ₹1,337 crore given by USL to UB Group firms. In a telephonic interview to BusinessLine , Mallya, who outright rejected the demand and the charge, gave his side of the story. Excerpts from the interview:

One thought you had cordial relations with Diageo. Now they are accusing your company of diversion of funds.

I don’t know (why). All this pertains to two years before they even came in. They did four months of due diligence. Now the issue has come up. No issue at all. I will not be resigning.

I will continue to chair the monthly operative meeting on Monday and the board meeting as well. The board itself can’t remove me. The shareholders have to decide. There is time for shareholders to decide. There is a lot of contractual obligation to be examined as well.

The probe report claims that USL diverted ₹2,000 crore to other group companies, especially Kingfisher Airlines. Do you agree with that report?

This ₹2,000 crore thing is all rubbish. The issue at stake is about ₹330 crore. The accounts have been validated by the board, audited by the auditors, approved by the shareholders, filed with the stock exchanges and registrar of companies. Suddenly, three years they wake up and rake up all this.

Some analysts say Diageo overpaid you to buy USL and are regretting their decision now.

Not true.

In your statement you have said they (the probe committee) did not give you a hearing…

They haven’t me heard at all. At all. I can drill 1,000 holes into that PwC report. Whatever it is, it is. Diageo is a big company and I am an Indian entrepreneur.

What do you plan to do now? Will you take to legal recourse?

I obviously have legal recourse.

At the end of the day, there is the justice system. If things can be resolved amicably, well and good. I will obviously deploy my legal options.

Diageo plc without giving a proper hearing to me, I think need to vote to approve my continuance on the board. But due procedure and process has to be followed.

There are many steps to be followed.

On Monday, there is a review meeting and I will obviously chair as usual. And the subsequent board meeting as well. There is no panic.

How confident are you of sailing through this situation?

It is not a question of confidence. When you have rights, you have rights. It is okay. I have faced many battles in life, (if) one more has to be faced, I will face it.

Also read: United Spirits vs Mallya: a corporate battle is brewing

Published on April 26, 2015
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