Auction of brands and trademarks of Kingfisher Airlines turned out to be a damp squib today as lenders failed to attract a single bidder for sale of these pledged assets at a reserve price of Rs. 366.70 crore in their efforts to recover unpaid loans from beleaguered Vijay Mallya.
This is the second failed attempt by the 17-bank consortium led by state-run behemoth SBI to recover some money from Mr. Mallya, after an earlier auction of Kingfisher House — the erstwhile headquarters of the long-defunct airline — met with a similar fate, with no bidder coming forward.
The items on sale during today’s e-auction included the Kingfisher logo as also the once-famous tagline ‘Fly the Good Times’ The other trademarks on sale included Flying Models, Funliner, Fly Kingfisher and Flying Bird Device.
The reserve price for the trademarks was kept at Rs. 366.70 crore, which is not even one-tenth of the price at which it was pledged as a collateral for the loan. Sources, however, said the reserve price was “too high” for any bidder to come in.
“There were no bids, possibly because the reserve price was considered very high. Though the reserve price was set much lower than its original valuation at the time of taking the brand as collateral, people still found it to be high,” a banking source said.
The online auction began at 11:30 a.m. and lasted for an hour without any success. It was conducted by SBICAP Trustee Company on behalf of lenders under the Sarfaesi Act.
The Kingfisher brand itself was valued at over Rs. 4,000 crore by Grant Thornton when the airline was at its peak.
In its annual report for 2012-13, KFA said that at its peak, it was the largest airline in India, with a five-star rating from Skytrax. The airline’s brand had been registered separately from the Kingfisher beer trademarks.
"Better to start a new airline company"
A senior banker said, “The interest for this auction could have been from existing airline operators, but no one will come. It is better to start a new airline company than to buy this brand and revive it.”
In a previous attempt at recovery of dues, which have ballooned to over Rs. 9,000 crore after taking into account the interest component, the banks had conducted an auction of Kingfisher House last month, but did not find any takers at a reserve price of Rs. 150 crore.
Sources said the lenders might now try to lower the reserve price in both the cases in their future efforts to sell these pledged assets.
The Kingfisher House property has a built-up area of over 17,000 square feet in posh Vile Parle near domestic airport here.
Mallya in London
Mr. Mallya, who left India on March 2 and is currently in London, has a non-bailable warrant against him in a money-laundering investigation. His passport has also been revoked. Earlier this week, the government said it has written to the British government seeking Mr. Mallya’s deportation.
In an interview to the Financial Times , the liquor baron, however, said he is in a “forced exile” and has no plans at the moment to return to India where things are flying at him “fast and furious”.
“I definitely would like to return to India. Right now, things are flying at me fast and furious. My passport has been revoked. I don’t know what the government is going to do next,” he said.
Mr. Mallya said he wanted a “reasonable” settlement with creditor banks for his defunct airline, but they “are not getting any money” by taking his passport or arresting him.