Bangalore: United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd (UBHL) is in discussions for an out-of-court settlement with two Kingfisher Airlines Ltd’s creditors that have filed winding up petitions against the UB Group holding company, chairman Vijay Mallya said on Thursday.
“There are five winding up petitions filed against us in Bangalore (Karnataka high court). We have serious counter claims against three of the petitioners, which basically leaves two petitioners with whom we are in dialogue for an out-of-court settlement,” Mallya told reporters, without naming the parties.
Mallya was speaking to reporters after UBHL shareholders’ annual meeting, which lasted less than 20 minutes.
UB Group owns a little more than 50% of UBHL.
Some of Kingfisher’s bankers and other creditors have filed winding-up petitions against UBHL to recover the money owed to them by the airline. UBHL has given corporate guarantees of Rs.8,964.38 crore for Kingfisher’s borrowings.
Mallya did not rule out settling with the banks which are owed over Rs.7,000 crore by Kingfisher.
“I can’t tell you everything that’s going on because there are some things which need to be kept confidential. But let’s put it this way: nobody likes unending litigation,” he said, when asked whether UBHL was in talks with bankers for a settlement.
However, bankers have indicated that they have lost patience with Mallya, already selling over Rs.600 crore of shares in United Spirits and Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd, as well as other assets. The shares were offered as collateral by UB when Kingfisher’s debt was restructured in 2011.
The airline’s operating licence was suspended in October by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) following a strike by its employees. The permit expired on 31 December, but it can be renewed within two years.
Mallya has always maintained that he would restart Kingfisher but once again he didn’t provide specifics on how he planned to do so. UBHL’s latest annual report this week said that the company had “decided to keep the airline funded on a need basis” to “keep its investment prospects alive”.
He also said on Thursday that the UB Group remained “firmly in control” of Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers. Mallya owns a little over 22% in Mangalore Chemicals, nearly 60% of which is pledged to lenders of UB Group companies, according to the latest data available with BSE. The group is no longer the largest shareholder of Mangalore Chemicals following the sale of pledged share by lenders. Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemicals Corp. Ltd bought roughly 25% in the company in July and Saroj Kumar Poddar-led Zuari Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd raised its stake to 16% from 10% a few days later.
Mallya added that the group’s luxury residential building Kingfisher Towers in Bangalore’s UB City was selling at Rs. 24,000 per sq. ft, compared with its peak valuation of over Rs. 30,000. The sale of property is one of the largest revenue generators for UBHL. The built-up area of the building, which is expected to be completed in 2015, would be 767,870 sq. ft, out of which UBHL’s share is 418,388 sq. ft.