Will start thinking retirement after hitting 60, says Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

USL Chairman Vijay Mallya today said he will not retire from the company’s board anytime soon, but would start thinking about it when he turns 60.

“I am not retiring quite yet, but as I said once, sixty years old, you must start thinking, you know of enjoying life … so what is wrong in me thinking (about it),” he told reporters, responding to a query on when he is going to retire from the USL Board after the much-hyped USL annual general meeting.

“As I said, people are reminding me that I am turning 60. Normally, when you turn 60 you think of retirement,” he added. The liquor baron was born on December 18, 1955.

Mallya is in the news after the media was agog with reports that Diageo, the United Spirits’ new owner, had asked him to step down as Chairman and Director of the Indian liquor firm for alleged fund diversion to Kingfisher and other UB Group entities.

To a question, Mallya said: “See, you try to interpret everything, twist and turn it… I will think when I hit 60. I will start thinking how to enjoy my life, what is wrong with that?”

Asked whether he was in process of reducing stake in United Spirits Limited (USL), Mallya said he was focussing on settling the affairs relating to Kingfisher.

“I am focussing on settling Kingfisher affairs with banks. That’s what my current focus is on,” he said.

On what means he would adopt to reduce the stake, a relatively annoyed Mallya castigated the media for “twisting” and giving a turn to statements.

“This is like saying I am going to buy new suit and your very next question will be where you are going to get, (and) which tailor? What is this ya? You guys have gone nuts,” he said.

He continued, “Please I made a statement, that’s it. You want to twist and turn from every angle. This is not right. This is why I don’t talk to media. One statement cannot be opened to 10 different interpretations. I said what I said.”

Asked about media reports suggesting that a resolution might be moved in the meeting to oust him as USL chairman, Mallya said, “Why should I respond to any stories printed in the media? This whole media game has now become – somebody triggers off some figment of imagination, then the whole media piles on to it and ask multiple questions, from multiple angles. Is this right? Correct reporting?”

K R Manjunath, a shareholder, raised the issue of non-declaration of the dividends due to them for the past three years and the delay in holding the AGM.

“I raised these two issues but I wasn’t satisfied with answers,” he said.

Another shareholder, Dr Ashok, wanted to know if the money received from United Breweries for stake sale to Heineken was utilised.

“I did not get a convincing reply. There is ambiguity in financial matters of the company, and the central government should intervene to protect the interests of minority stakeholders, given the ‘ill’ intentions of the big foreign companies,” he said.

Replying to a question on non-payment of dividend for the last three years, Mallya said provisions and write-offs of Rs 7,200 crore made over last two years put the company into a loss and hence non-payment of dividend.

“The sole reason for it is the provisions and write-offs of Rs 7,200 crore made over last two years. That write-off put the company into a loss and as a result (of loss) dividend could not be paid,” he said.

Nevertheless, the company remains a profitable firm and there isn’t operational loss because it has great brands, Mallya said.

“Or else, I can say that this remains a profitable company. There is no operational loss. We have great brands and we are a strong company,” he said.