Vittal Mallya

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Vittal Mallya
Born 1924
Bantwal, Dakshina Kannada, Madras Presidency, British India
(now in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka), India
Died 13 October 1983(1983-10-13) (aged 59)
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Cause of death Heart Attack
Nationality Indian
Education The Doon School
Presidency College, Kolkata
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1947–1983
Organization United Breweries Group
Known for Liquor Baron
Board member of United Breweries Group
Mysore Electro-Chemical Works
Kissan Products
Hindustan Cocoa Products
Indian Sewing Machines Company
Hoechst AG
British Paints
Cadbury India
Hindustan Polymers
Bush Boake Allen
Spouse(s) Lalitha Ramaiah Mallya
Children Vijay Mallya (son)

Vittal Mallya (1924–1983) was an Indian entrepreneur, best known as the former Chairman of the India-based United Breweries Group. Mallaya is the father of Indian businessman Vijay Mallaya.

Early life and education

Vittal Mallya was born in 1924. He was the youngest of the three children of Lt. Col. Bantwal Ganapathi Mallya by his wife Mrs. Devi Mallya. The family belongs to the Goud Saraswat Brahmin community of coastal Karnataka, and hails from the town of Bantwal.[1] They were an affluent land-owning family, and as Brahmins, they laid great stress on education and family values. It had become normative for younger sons of this wealthy, landed family to enter government service. Mallya's father had received an expensive, modern, English language education, and had obtained an FRCS Medical degree from England. He had then been commissioned into the Indian Army as a doctor and served in many remote areas across the length and breadth of undivided India.

The junior Mallya gained exposure to the many cultures of India as he grew up in many cantonment towns across India. When he was around 12 years of age, his father's wealth and position as an army officer made it possible for young Vittal to be enrolled into The Doon School, India's most prestigious boarding school for boys. Vittal was a very bright student at school, and received several double promotions during his academic career for outstanding performance. After finishing school, he was accepted into Presidency College, Kolkata, another premier educational institution. He chose this college because his father was posted at that time in Kolkata. After his graduation, he traveled abroad for over two years in a sort of grand tour which was undertaken for two reasons: firstly, his father, who had studied in England and was something of an Anglophile, wanted him to have some exposure to Europe and the wider world outside India; secondly, Vittal wanted to see Europe and gain first-hand practical knowledge that he believed to be a lot more valuable than formal education.[2] He also learned Spanish in the process.


In 1946-47 he started acquiring the shares of United Breweries Limited. In 1947, Mallya was elected as United Breweries' first Indian director. After a year, he replaced R.G.N.Price as the chairman of the company. In 1951, he acquired McDowell & Company Limited.

Moving to Bangalore in 1952, Mallya started a steady acquisition of small breweries and distilleries. New breweries were established in Kerala (Cherthala, 1959), Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad, 1969), Goa (Ponda, 1971) and Bihar (Hatidah, 1973).

By the early 1960s, Mallya, back in Calcutta, gained further control of the liquor market by acquiring Carew & Company Limited and Phipson & Company Limited (the latter a major liquor distribution company), followed in the early 1970s by another distribution firm, Herbertsons Limited.

It also began its association, about this time, with Hoechst AG of Germany while co-promoting Hoechst Pharmaceuticals Limited, now known as Aventis Pharma India.

The simultaneous move into food products started with the acquisition of Kissan Products in 1950. When Herbertsons was pocketed two decades later, Mallya also bagged its Dipy's division, giving him a virtual stranglehold on a series of processed food products.

In 1977, when an official prohibition drive sent the breweries and distilleries into a tailspin, Mallya showed his foresight by buying up or gaining control through management contracts of yet more breweries (Premier, Jupiter, Punjab and Indo-Lowenbrau) and distilleries in Udaipur, Alwar, Mirganj, Serampore and also set up a plant in Pondicherry, as others sold out in the face of a market slump. In the process, he finally pipped Mohan Meakin to the title of beer and liquor king.

Mallya got the Jammu & Kashmir Government to give him two acres on lease to start a nursery, and then distributed hops seedlings to Kashmir farmers and bought up all their produce—giving him effective control of the beer industry's most vital ingredient.

He also became chairman of British Paints with the help of Hoechst AG, which had earlier acquired British Paints' parent company abroad, the Berger group. Then through Cadbury Schweppes, international associates of Kissan Products, he moved on to the board of Cadbury India, to become its chairman a few years later. Taking advantage of disinvestment's by multinationals, he became chairman of the Indian Sewing Machine Company and Malayalam Plantations (large tea and rubber company) and also a director of Bush Boake Allen.

Two other important acquisitions include Hindustan Polymers (taken from the Shriram Group) and Mysore Electro-Chemical Works (makers of MEC batteries).

In 1981, Mallya controlled 10 breweries and 14 distilleries, seven processed food companies, six investment companies, two small packaging units, three drug firms, soft drinks bottling plants, a battery unit and one of the company's two styrene companies, while heading a handful of other companies even though he did not have controlling interest.


Business rivals charged him with reveling in the unethical practices of the liquor industry,[3] and maximizing profits by making whisky from molasses instead of malted barley—the former process allegedly costing only 5 per cent of the latter, but with the resultant spirit being far more harmful to health.

Mallya's name was also linked in 1980 to the then Maharashtra chief minister A.R. Antulay's controversial decisions on alcohol supply.

Personal life

He was married thrice.[4] Vijay Mallya is his son from his first marriage to Lalitha Ramaiah. He was later married to Kailash Advani (known as Ritu Mallya after the marriage), a Mumbai-based lawyer and owner of a garment business.[5]


  1. ^ "Vijay Mallya: Mr High Spirits". Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  2. ^ a b "Group Information - Media - UB Group". Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  3. ^ a b "Vittal Mallya: The industrialist with the Midas touch". Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  4. ^ "Vijay Mallya: The spirit shall prevail - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  5. ^ "There's spring in autumn". Retrieved 2016-03-17.

External links

  • United Breweries history
  • The UB Group: Genesis
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