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Mallya’s Kingfisher House to go under the hammer again

Mumbai: The Kingfisher House — the erstwhile headquarters of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. (KAL) – owned by absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya, will be up for auction again. The 8th time in barely three years.

The Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Bengaluru, has announced a new auction date of November 27 through an online bidding process, for the beleaguered property.

From the original reserve price of Rs 135 crore during the first auction of the property — valued at around Rs 150 crore in 2016 — for the 8th auction this time, the reserve price is fixed at a staggeringly low of just Rs 54 crore, a sharp drop of 60 per cent. The building, originally known as Paradigm, and later as Kingfisher House, includes a basement, an upper ground floor, a ground floor and an upper floor which are now up for sale, totally measuring 1,586 sq metres.

It is situated on a plot measuring around 2,402 sq. metres in a coveted location, bang outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).

Experts say an important factor affecting the property sale is the massive encroachment — of around 725 sq. metres — giving a net saleable area of just 1,677 sq. metres.

Another consideration weighing the minds of the potential buyers is limited scope of redevelopment or exploiting it in future owing to the height restrictions on building constructions as it falls in the vicinity of the CSMIA, among the busiest in the country.

However, market players caution that if the reserve price of such premises are slashed repeatedly in this manner, it tends to give a bad reputation to the prime property and buyers would shy away from it in future.

The sale is part of the efforts to recover Rs 6,203 crore plus interest from June 2013, which are demanded by a consortium of bankers led by the State Bank of India and others.

The first of the auctions was ordered by the DRT Bengaluru in 2016 with a reserve price of Rs 135 crore and the last (7th) one was held in March 2018 with a reserve price of Rs 75 crore.

The prospective buyers will have to contend with an additional expenditure of Rs 1.55 crore of unpaid property taxes, due to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), allegedly unpaid since the past over three years.

A former Rajya Sabha Member, Mallya — who sneaked out of the country around early 2016 — is currently living in London, United Kingdom since.

In Dec 2018, a UK court ordered his extradition to India which he has challenged on grounds that the cases against him are ‘politically motivated’, though Indian authorities are optimistic he will be brought back to face the law soon.

Presently, he has non-bailable arrest warrants in several cases from different courts in India, including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

In April 2016, a Mumbai Special Court had summoned him for hearing in cases of alleged money-laundering of Rs 4,000 crore, but he never showed up.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) stepped into the picture in June 2016 by attaching some of his assets valued at Rs 1,400 crore, and later another attachment order on his farmhouse, shares in his companies, flats in Bengaluru and other assets.

So far, the ED has attached more than Rs 9,600 crore worth of his Indian assets and has initiated the process to seize his foreign assets in the United State, United Kingdom and Europe among a few other countries.

Incidentally, so far the authorities have succeeded in selling Mallya’s reputed ‘Kingfisher Villa’ in Candolim Beach, Goa, to a Marathi actor in a negotiated deal of around Rs 73 crore after multiple auction deals failed.

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