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Feb, 23 2017

USL set to auction for its former owner and fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya's properties

India’s largest distiller USL is now in the process of informing Mallya, who is living in London since March last year, about its plans to proceed with an auction, sources familiar with the matter said. India has sought extradition of Mallya, who is wante

United Spirits (USL) is set to auction its former owner and fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya’s properties, including his palatial Mumbai residence Niladri on Nepean Sea Road, after the latter’s option to buy them at a discounted price expired earlier this week. The 13 properties across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Scotland and Hong Kong are worth about USD 100 million, or Rs 680 crore, with Niladri alone worth half the value.

Mallya, who had quit as chairman with a controversial $75-million severance package last year, had gained a one-year option to buy the properties at 10% discount to market value, which lapsed on February 21. India’s largest distiller USL is now in the process of informing Mallya, who is living in London since March last year, about its plans to proceed with an auction, sources familiar with the matter said. India has sought extradition of Mallya, who is wanted in several cases relating to loan defaults totalling over Rs 6,000 crore, following the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines.

Whether Mallya, or his nominees, would make a bid for these properties has been keenly watched, especially since he is known to be sentimentally attached to assets like Niladri and his New Delhi residence on Sardar Patel Marg. Niladri, a sea-facing 2,000-sq-metre property with 2,400 sq metres of built-up area, has been his residence since 1984, where he negotiated several empire building acquisitions before it all started unravelling six years ago. The value of this property alone is estimated at about Rs 350 crore. But Niladri may come under the coastal regulation zone notification, curbing its redevelopment potential, which could hamper aggressive offers.

The company also owns beneficial ownership of Keillour Castle at Perthshire in Scotland, with an estimated value of $1.5-2 million. USL has been keen on selling these properties to pare Rs 4,000-crore debt, and is expected to hasten the process now.

Mallya had sold management control of USL, once the flamboyant industrialist’s cash cow, to Diageo in November 2012. A year earlier, an unknown entity linked to Mallya, called PE Data, had paid an advance to obtain the right of first refusal to buy the properties for just Rs 290 crore. The new owner of USL cancelled this deal and later struck a fresh one giving Mallya an option buy at a slightly discounted price. Apart from his marquee homes in Mumbai, Delhi and Scotland, the details of other Mallya properties parked on the USL balance sheet are not clearly known, though media has speculated on it several times.

Some of the overseas residences used by Mallya include a house at Clifton Estate in Cape Town, South Africa, house in Sausalito, California, a condo at Trump Plaza in New York and a house on Baker Street in London. He also owns an under construction penthouse at Kingfisher Towers in Bangalore. It is learnt that these assets are not part of the USL list.

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