Heineken has taken majority control of United Breweries, India’s biggest brewer, after purchasing neatly 40 million shares in the company.
The brewer bought nearly 40 million shares in UB for around £57 million as part of the court-enforced sales of assets seized from former chairman Vijay Mallya to repay his debts to a consortium of banks.
Heineken now owns more than 60% of United Breweries, having previously been the biggest shareholder with 46%. It bought its original stake from Mallya as he sought to rescue his business empire.
The banks claim the former liquor baron owes them some £1.15 billion in the wake of the collapse of his Kingfisher Airline in 2012 and that other creditors are owed some £60m. Mallya disputes those figures, saying his debt is more like £580m.
He says they have refused his offers to settle his debts on numerous occasions.
Mallya fled to Britain in March 2016 to avoid arrest. He has since been charged with fraud and money laundering and is due to be extradited to India.
He has exhausted all legal avenues to being returned to India but the process has been held up by a “confidential legal matter”, widely assumed to be an application for asylum in the UK.
In separate cases Diageo and United Spirits are seeking to recover about £250m from Mallya while he is also facing bankruptcy proceedings in London. A court will hear final submissions in that case next month.
Meanwhile, Mallya is on bail in the UK, living at his luxury home in Hertfordshire and in Regent’s Park in London.