By BS Reporter
Though Vijay Mallya may have managed a neat cash pile with the Diageo deal, something he desperately needed at this point, he refused to provide clarity on whether the debt-laden Kingfisher Airlines was financially stable.
For about a year, Mallya has been scrambling to raise funds for Kingfisher, prompting speculation he may offload stake in United Spirits or United Breweries.
To put to rest speculation on what the Diageo deal would mean for Kingfisher, Mallya simply said, "We have multiple businesses, and each business operates independent of the others. There is no cross-contamination. There never has been, there never will be."
"I have now done what I think is best for my spirits business. Of course, we will also address the needs of Kingfisher Airlines. But these would be done separately for the good of the company and its stakeholders," he added.
Some analysts, however, said the deal might not be enough to revive Kingfisher Airlines. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has said a fully-funded turnaround for Kingfisher would cost at least $1 billion.
Bankers, however, are happy. State Bank of India Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said: "We have exposure of Rs 1,200 crore to KFA (Kingfisher Airlines) and it has been fully provided for. From the perspective of money coming to the promoters and the holding company, it augurs well for the airline. From here, there can only be an upside for the airline. Kingfisher needs capital. Where the money comes from, we are completely agnostic to."
Mallya said he wasn't aware of any deadline set by the lenders to Kingfisher Airlines. He said currently, he was working on a comprehensive rehabilitation and recapitalisation plan for the airline.
"It would be unfortunate if you try to link this transaction with the airline. I am doing what is in the best interest of United Spirits and its shareholders. And, obviously, I will do my best for Kingfisher Airlines as well," he said.
On Friday, the Kingfisher stock closed at Rs 13.53 on the BSE, a gain of 4.97 per cent against yesterday's close.
For the quarter ended September, the airline's losses widened to Rs 753.55 crore, against Rs 468.66 crore in the corresponding quarter last year, owing to high finance costs, redelivery of planes and costs associated with the grounding of planes. The company's revenue plunged to Rs 200 crore, compared with Rs 1,552.87 crore in the year-ago period. The airline has been grounded since October 1. It has admitted it incurred substantial losses and its net worth has been eroded.