How Mallya fooled seventeen Banks

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Sai Ravi Teja Pingali, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The flamboyant liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, once hailed as the King of Good Times and Indian version of Richard Branson, is being chased by almost every institution in the country — the banks, regulators and, finally, the judiciary — for the Rs 9,000 crores he owes to the lenders. How did Mallya fall to his current plight, where he is personally held accountable for the failure of the airline business Kingfisher Airlines and delayed repayment of loans? The answer lies in a decision forced on him by lenders in 2010 to give a second lease of life to the airline that was then on the brink of a collapse.

The Kingfisher Airline, grounded in 2012, never made profit in its eight years of operations. When Mallya approached the group of lenders for further lending in 2010, there was serious differences of opinion among the group of senior bankers in SBI, and other banks in the consortium, on why should they lend to the airline again. But, the majority decision was to take the big risk again and lend to Mallya.

Bankers were optimistic because Mallya himself was hopeful of turning around the airline, even though the entire aviation industry was groping in darkness. Ironically, however, despite Mallya’s optimism, everyone saw the writing on the wall.

Finally, Kingfisher, was declared an NPA by most banks, including SBI, towards the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. The majority burden of Kingfisher loans was on government-owned banks. The smartest in the lot was ICICI Bank, which managed to sell its entire Rs 430 crore Kingfisher loan exposure to a debt fund managed by the Kolkata-based Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd in mid-2012. The sarkari banks were the real bakaras in the entire story.

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