Bengaluru: Mallya hints at retiring soon to enjoy life

Bengaluru, Nov 24 (IANS) Once a king of ‘good times’, business mogul Vijay Mallya on Tuesday hinted at retiring after turning 60 next month and enjoying life thereafter.

“At 60, normally people think of retiring and enjoying life. I am also thinking of retiring and enjoying life. There is nothing wrong in that,” Mallya told reporters on the margins of the 16th annual general meeting (AGM) of United Spirits Ltd (USL) here.

Sporting a French beard and a ponytail, Mallya, however, hastened to clarify that he was not retiring as yet.

“But when you turn 60, you should think of retiring and enjoying your life,” said the Rajya Sabha independent member from Karnataka.

On the appointment of Diageo’s Asia Pacific and Africa head Nicholas Bodo Blazaquz as USL vice chairman, Mallya said Nicholas brought huge amount of value, being responsible for the region.

“Nicholas is a great help and you cannot be a batsman for the rest of your life. Ultimately, you should think of retirement, isn’t it,” he said.

Mallya’s observations came in light of British liquor major Diageo, which bought majority stake (54.7 percent) in USL in 2012 and took control, asking him in April to step down from the board as chairman and director, as it had lost confidence in him.

Diageo also appointed global audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) India to do forensic investigation of its accounts, following discrepancies, including financial irregularities, which included writing off Rs.7,200 crore from the books.

“There is no operational loss. Our brands are doing well, as we have enviable stable portfolio of brands. We are also concentrating on premium plus brands. Business wise, we are profitable,” Mallya told investors at the AGM.

A shareholder, however, advised Diageo and Mallya to resolve their differences mutually instead of quarrelling like school boys in public.

Mallya, who holds a mere 4.07 percent of equity stake in USL has refused to step down.

On questioned about Diageo wanting him to step down, an upset Mallya retorted: “Why should I tell you and respond to media reports?

“Somebody triggers a figment of imagination and the whole media piles on to it and asks multiple questions from multiple angles. I have nothing to say on this.”

According to the annual report for fiscal 2014-15, the Rs.8,353-crore USL has emerged as the world’s second largest spirits firm, with over 117 million cases of 140 brands, produced and sold annually.

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