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Rediff.com  » Sports » Profile: Dr Vijay Mallya

Profile: Dr Vijay Mallya

March 13, 2008 19:37 IST

Dr Vijay Mallya -- Chairman and Managing Director, Force India Formula One Team

The UB Group is one of India's largest conglomerates with annual sales of over US$ 4 billion and a market capitalization of approximately US$ 12 billion. The Group has diverse interests in brewing, distilling, real estate, engineering, fertilizers, biotechnology, information technology and aviation. It is also the largest Indian manufacturer of beverage alcohol (beer and spirits). Dr Vijay Mallya is the Chairman of the Group.

Mallya, 52, was elected by shareholders as Chairman of UB in 1983, at the age of 28. He previously assisted his father, the former Chairman, who passed away in the same year.

Prior to being entrusted with the responsibilities of a classical Indian corporate conglomerate, Mallya worked for the American Hoechst Corporation (now Sanofi-Aventis) in the US and with Jenson & Nicholson in the UK. Since 1980, he assisted his father, the then Chairman of The UB Group, in managing the important Brewing and Spirits Divisions and in re-launching the Kingfisher Brand of Beer. In 1983, the sales volume of the UB Spirits division was approximately 2.85 million cases and UB's beer business trailed behind that of Golden Eagle from Mohan Meakins. Also included in the Group were activities such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, paints, petrochemicals and plastics, the manufacture of electro-mechanical batteries, the manufacture of food products and carbonated beverages, a fast-food pizza chain and several medium and small scale industrial units.

Upon assuming the position of Chairman in October 1983, Dr. Mallya initiated the process of defining a corporate structure with performance accountability, inducting professional management and consolidating the unwieldy empire into individual operating divisions.

In 1988, Mallya became a non-resident Indian to pursue global opportunities and to transform The UB Group into India's first multinational company. While, in the initial stages, overseas representative offices had been commissioned, the real break came in 1988 when Mallya, in a leveraged buyout, acquired the global Berger Paints Group with operating companies across four continents. The exit strategy for this investment was profitably executed when Mallya successfully directed five Initial Public Offerings on the London, Singapore (Main Boards), Nairobi, Jamaica and Abidjan Stock Exchanges. The paints business was divested for significant value in 1996.

Mallya also founded a software company in the US in 1993 which was subsequently listed on the NASDAQ in 1996 and which provides a considerable window of opportunity to the vast US market.  He also initiated several ventures for the promotion and globalization of UB brands and, in particular, Kingfisher and McDowell.

In 1990, following the Government of India's liberalised economic policies, Dr. Mallya decided that the UB Group would only retain interests in businesses that were globally competitive and which did not depend upon fiscal tariff protection. He also decided to focus on areas of core competence and transformed the vastly diversified UB conglomerate into a handful of key operating businesses.

On entering the new millennium, The UB Group is considerably more focused and has dramatically increased value for its shareholders through its various operating businesses. Sales of the UB Spirits Division have touched 74 million cases (9 litres each) during the third quarter of the fiscal year 2007-08. In addition, this Division is one of only three in the world to own fifteen millionaire brands and at least five brands rated by Drinks International, UK to be amongst the ten fastest growing brands in the world in their respective categories. The market share of the Spirits Division in India is currently 60% and exports to the Middle East, Africa and Asian countries are growing rapidly.

In 2007, United Spirits Limited, the flagship of The UB Group, acquired a hundred percent of premium scotch distillers Whyte & Mackay and Liquidity Inc, a United States-based maker of specialty vodkas. The Delaware-based Liquidity Inc produces speciality brands like Pinky Vodka and Marakesh.

The UB Group's Brewing Division has also assumed undisputed market leadership with a national market share in excess of 48%. Through a process of aggressive acquisition and market penetration, The UB Group today controls 60% of the total manufacturing capacity for beer in India. The flagship brand, Kingfisher, is now sold in over 50 countries worldwide having received many accolades for its quality.

Kingfisher, one of the flagship brands of The UB Group, has partnered with NDTV, India's leading broadcast group in a first-of-its-kind media alliance for the promotion of NDTV Good Times. The NDTV Good Times channel would leverage from the editorial credibility and quality of the NDTV group and the strong lifestyle appeal of the Kingfisher brand and icon, to offer Indian viewers a world-class television entertainment experience.

The UB Group's Kingfisher Airlines is today the undisputed market leader in India's booming aviation market. In the short span of just under three years since it was launched, Kingfisher Airlines has redefined the whole experience of flying and has raised the bar by unleashing a host of product and service innovations. It has received over thirty awards since its inception.

Kingfisher Airlines offers full service and promises an unparalleled experience to the Indian air traveller. On offer are the plushest sleeperette seats in the Indian skies with a 48 inch pitch, 125 degree recline, adjustable headrests and fully extendable footrests. In-flight entertainment has been taken to a new level with the introduction of live television to compliment the latest and finest audio and video on demand system that is available.

With the merger of Air Deccan and Kingfisher Airlines, the airline covers all segments of air travel from low fares to premium fares and offers the maximum number of flights offered by any single airline network in India.

India's largest domestic airline connects 71 cities and has 549 daily departures. The combined entity of Kingfisher Airlines currently operates a fleet of 49 brand new Airbus A-320 family aircraft and 30 ATR aircraft.

In 2007, Mallya made a strategic and significant investment in Epic Aircraft, a US-based aircraft manufacturing company specializing in high performance airplanes-Very Light Jets (VLJ). VLJs are a new breed of aircraft, developed through innovative technology and manufacturing processes that have reduced the cost of a jet by up to 60%, potentially transforming the economics and convenience of owning and operating private jets. 

Mallya is the Chairman of public companies both in India as well as in the US.  He has been the Chairman of Aventis Pharma India (previously Hoechst) as well as the Chairman of Bayer Crop Science in India (previously Agrevo) for over 20 years, in addition to his Chairmanship of several other corporations.

He is a keen sportsman and is an ardent aviator and yachtsman of distinction.  He not only participates in various sporting events but also supports various sporting activities worldwide, particularly for the under privileged.

Force India Formula One Team: Mallya has had a longstanding presence in Formula One having sponsored the Benetton Formula One Team in 1996-97. In 2007, Kingfisher Airlines was a sponsor of the Panasonic Toyota Formula One Team. Mallya also serves as the Chairman of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, the Government of India, recognized National sporting body as well as the Motor Sports Association of India, the current FIA ASN for India.

Mallya is the first Indian ever to become the owner of a Formula One Team. The Netherlands-based Mol Family and Mallya have formed a consortium that is now the joint owner of Force India Formula One, which is also India's first-ever Formula One Team and represents India's first, truly global sports foray.

The Silverstone-based team has evolved from the iconic Jordan Grand Prix Team to the more recent Spyker Team and boasts a tally of three race wins since its inception in 1991.

Under the leadership of Mallya, the team is now a finely tuned, state-of-the-art Formula One entity ready to challenge some of the automotive industry's greatest brands for track success. The team can now benefit from a competitive advantage in the areas of aerodynamics technology-thanks to Airbus support; access to the latest in composite manufacturing and operations technology through Epic Aircraft.

Force India Formula One is the new global face of an emerging superpower and is increasingly viewed as a team that will change the dynamics of Formula One, bottom up and a team that dares to dream. Most importantly, Force India Formula One has come to epitomize the dream of every Indian and is powered by a billion prayers!

Mallya has received several professional awards both in India and overseas.  He was conferred a Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Administration, by the Southern California University, Irvine.  He has also been nominated as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.

Mallya has always believed that Corporations have a responsibility to society and mankind. To this end, he has contributed generously to various Charities and Foundations in several countries in addition to establishing The Mallya Hospital, The Mallya-Aditi School and the Vittal Mallya Scientific Research Foundation in Bangalore, India.