In 1990s, Best and Crompton workers called Vijay Mallya ‘NPA’

Chennai, March 10 (IANS) Long before some Indian banks termed Vijay Mallya, the promoter of Kingfisher Airlines, a “wilful defaulter”, workers of the city based Best and Crompton Engineering had publicly called him an “NPA” — non-performing asset.

They also urged Mallya to quit the company.

Normally, company annual general meetings (AGMs) are boring affairs with some shareholders demanding sweet packets.

But once in a decade or more, one will be fortunate enough to witness an interesting shareholders meeting where individual shareholders pose strong questions to the corporate emperors.

And one such AGM this city saw was that of Best and Crompton’s held in 1990s.

At that time the company was part of Mallya’s UB Group and was not doing well.

Disillusioned workers and shareholders of Best and Crompton dubbed their chairman Mallya an NPA and also asked him to resign from the board.

Placards with slogans against Mallya added more colours to the scene.

However, due credit has to be given to Mallya at the way he conducted the meeting.

At one point, a smiling Mallya even told the shareholders to speak one-by-one so that he can hear them all!

The historic AGM was adjourned as no business was transacted due to the noisy scenes.

Mallya later sold Best and Crompton to an Indonesian group.

Prior to that, he had sold Best and Crompton’s stake in the elevator joint venture company Beacon Kone to the other joint venture partner Kone Group of Finland.

“The mood of the shareholders was aggressive. Many workers complained that the company did not remit the provident fund (PF) directions to the PF office. One shareholder pointedly told Mallya ‘You have closed several group companies – (Best and Crompton). You did not open anything new’,” said M. Ramesh, senior deputy editor, The Hindu Business Line, recalling the AGM meeting.

“At one point,” Ramesh said, “Mallya was talking to a fellow board member, at which a shareholder angrily told him to listen to him rather than talking to others. Mallya coolly replied, ‘I’m listening to you’ and reeled out the points that the shareholders raised in their speech.”

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