February 9, 2017 / 1:44 PM / 3 years ago

India's United Breweries asks Vijay Mallya to step down from board

(Reuters) - United Breweries (UBBW.NS), India’s top brewer which is part-owned by global giant Heineken NV (HEIN.AS), has asked liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, its non-executive chairman, to step down from the board, the company said.

Britain Formula One - F1 - British Grand Prix 2016 - Silverstone, England - 8/7/16 Force India team principal Vijay Mallya during the press conference Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic

Mallya, mired in a growing series of legal battles following the collapse of his Kingfisher airline, was last month charged with conspiracy and fraud by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation.

The move by the board of United Breweries, which makes and sells Kingfisher beer in India, follows a regulatory order and a meeting of its independent directors, the company said in a filing with the stock exchanges late on Wednesday. (bit.ly/2kVIy1L)

A spokesman for Heineken told Reuters it was not involved in the decision which was taken independently by the board of United Breweries. He declined to comment on whether Heineken had been in touch with Mallya over the issue.

A spokesman for Mallya could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mallya, the head of the Force India Formula One team and a former owner of an Indian Premier League cricket team, moved to Britain in March 2016 after being pursued in courts by banks seeking to recover about $1.4 billion the Indian authorities say is owed by his Kingfisher airline.

India’s capital markets regulator has barred Mallya from participating in the country’s securities market for having allegedly diverted funds from whiskey maker United Spirits (UNSP.NS).

On Thursday, the Indian government said it has applied to Britain to extradite Mallya to face trial.

Mallya, along with some of his other ventures, held a roughly 30 percent stake in United Breweries as of the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016, according to securities data.

Heineken, which owns 43.7 percent of the Indian brewer, said the company was happy with its current shareholding, but would look at increasing its stake if an opportunity arose.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Clara Ferreira Marques in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Adrian Croft

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