Vijay Mallya was Declared NPA in 1990’s by Best & Crompton Workers

Best and Crompton workers and shareholders asked Mallya to quit the company in the 1990’s

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Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya (C) shakes hands with a well-wisher as he arrives for a news conference in Mumbai November 15, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Long before some Indian banks termed Vijay Mallya, the promoter of Kingfisher Airlines, a “wilful defaulter”, workers of the Chennai-based Best and Crompton Engineering had publicly called him an NPA – Non-Performing Asset.

They also urged Mallya to quit the company.

Normally, company annual general meetings (AGMs) are boring affairs with some shareholders demanding sweet packets.

But once in a decade or more, one will be fortunate enough to witness an interesting shareholders meeting where individual shareholders pose strong questions to the corporate emperors. One such AGM Chennai saw was that of Best and Crompton’s, held in the 1990s.

At that time the company was part of Mallya’s UB Group, and not doing well.

Disillusioned workers and shareholders of Best and Crompton dubbed their chairman Mallya an NPA, and asked him to resign from the board. Placards with slogans against Mallya added colour to the scene.

However, due credit has to be given to Mallya for the way he conducted the meeting. At one point, a smiling Mallya even told the shareholders to speak one-by-one so that he could hear them all!

The historic AGM was adjourned as no business was transacted due to the noisy scenes. Mallya later sold Best and Crompton to an Indonesian group.

Prior to that, he had sold Best and Crompton’s stake in the elevator joint venture company Beacon Kone, to the other joint venture partner, Kone Group of Finland.

M Ramesh, the senior deputy editor of The Hindu Business Line. was one of the journalists who attended the meeting.

The mood of the shareholders was aggressive. Many workers complained that the company did not remit the provident fund (PF) directions to the PF office.
M Ramesh, Senior deputy editor, The Hindu Business Line 

Ramesh added that at one point, when Mallya was talking to a fellow board member, a shareholder angrily told Mallya to listen to him rather than talking to others. Mallya coolly replied, “I’m listening to you” and reeled out the points that the shareholders raised in their speech.

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