Will Vijay Mallya have to cede control of his home turf to keep his kingdom in the air? It seems so, as Mallya’s debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines during a meeting with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday offered to fund its own revival plan till it found an investor.
The regulator suspended the airline’s licence on October 21 after it failed to respond to a show-cause notice served earlier in the month. Among KFA’s problems are a restive workforce, a Rs. 7,524-crore debt burden and an unyielding DGCA.
Mallya will be able to raise about Rs. 1,500 crore from divesting in his United Spirits Ltd (USL). With the premium he may charge for ceding control on the company, Mallya, sources said, would be able to fetch the capital to make Kingfisher fly again.
Sources also indicate that discussions are on with at least two potential buyers to sell the promoters’ stake in Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilisers to fund KFA’s revival.
Last month, USL and British liquor major Diageo plc confirmed that the two were discussing a possible offloading of USL stakes to Diageo. Mallya, who was in London last fortnight, reportedly led the talks.
The sources also say Mallya is keen on demanding a premium for surrendering the ownership and management control over USL that clocked a Rs. 7,660-crore revenue and a R343-crore net profit in 2011-12. But Mallya holds only 27.8%, as the promoter, which gives him a wafer-thin space to negotiate.
The transaction is complex also because part of the promoter’s holdings in USL has been pledged to lenders for raising cash to fund $1.2 billion (Rs. 6,200 crore) in 2007 to acquire the premium Scotch whisky maker, Whyte and Mackay.