How Vijay Mallya Inherited an Empire and Made It Bigger

In a world where people played coy, Mallya was not afraid to rise and shine.


We live in a country where people are always afraid and hesitant to talk about their successes and achievements. While most millionaires and billionaires like to stay away from the limelight, one was not afraid to shine as bright as possible. The king of good times, Vijay Mallya. He was not hesitant to show his exuberant and extravagant lifestyle by throwing the biggest parties of the country, calendar girls, owning a formula-one team or having an IPL team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He was an entrepreneur whose persona was much larger than his empire.

The inheritance of an empire

Vijay Mallya was the son of the chairman of United Breweries, Vittal Mallya. During his 20s, Mallya enjoyed taking part in formula one. Around 1982-83, he also won Indian Grand Prix. However, he could not continue that further as life took an unexpected turn. In 1983, Mallya’s father collapsed due to a sudden heart attack. At only 28, Mallya had to step in his father’s shoes and become the chairman of the United Breweries.

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At only 28, Mallya stepped into his father’s shoes.

Expansion like never before!

Back in those days, there was a lot of taboo associated with alcohol. Mallya wanted to introduce the culture of cherishing liquor. In 1986, India was becoming a more consumer-centric economy. He used this opportunity to introduce Kingfisher draft beer to the youthful crowd of Banglore. Although there were some political backlashes he faced, he was determined to get what he wants. The plan worked! The popularity of Kingfisher grew phenomenally. So much so that people asked for a Kingfisher instead of a beer. He was associated more closely with Kingfisher compared to all the other liquor of the United Breweries. During those times, Mallya’s success in the liquor industry grew to such an extent that he was popularly known as the ‘Liquor Baron’. In 1999, he introduced India to strong beer consumption with Kingfisher Strong, which to date happens to be one of the highest-selling beers.

Along with the liquor industry, Mallya also was a keen investor. He bought a major stake of Berger Paints in 1988 and sold a majority of his stake in 1991 with an enormous profit. After the Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers was declared as a sick unit by the Karnataka government, the billionaire took control of it as well. He further bought Rifa Publications, Herberstones and Shaw Wallace & Co. Ltd. Herberstones were the makers of bagpipers, the most sold whiskey in the country and Shaw Wallace & Co. Ltd. were the biggest competitors of United Breweries.

In 2005, Vijay Mallya entered the aviation industry by launching Kingfisher Airlines. Kingfisher Airlines was closest to his heart and he was emotionally quite invested in it. With no time, Kingfisher Airlines became the second-best domestic airline by market share. He offered the most luxurious experience in his airline which was never seen before in India. Alongside, he also invested in things he was passionate about. In 2007, Mallya bought a large stake in the Formula One team, Spykar and rebranded it as Force India. He also bought the franchise of Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008 and became a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL). His passion and his personality always kept him in the limelight and soon he became internationally known as ‘India’s Richard Branson’.

Tanisha Achrekar
Tanisha Achrekar
Tanisha is a Business Writer at Dutch Uncles, she writes on personal finance, management and financial concepts. Her stint includes JP Morgan and Media.net

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