Staff at near-bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines have something to smile about, finally, as the UK's Diageo pulled the trigger to buy a 53 percent stake in Vijay Mallya's flagship United Spirits unit on Friday, providing the flambuoyant tycoon a much-needed $2 billion with which he'll seek to keep his airline from crashing. (And, hopefully, issue some salary checks).
As GlobalPost reported last month, Mallya -- known for apeing Richard Branson, gold chains and shirts unbuttoned to his navel -- has been pilloried as "India's worst businessman" since the high profile failure of his airline. His employees have taken him to court to try to squeeze some cash out of him. And there was a pretty decent chance that shareholders might have made an attempt to force him to cede control of the family business built by his father in the heyday of the Bangalore booze boom.
Mallya, who said Friday that he has not sold the family jewels, though there is every appearance he has put them in hock, now looks to have averted the worst.
Diageo will acquire a 27.4 percent stake in United Spirits at 1440 rupees ($26.32) a share, or 660 million pounds ($1.05 billion), and make a tender offer for another 26 percent, the Associated Press reported.