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Kingfisher Airlines online auction receives lukewarm response

Auction of brands and trademarks of the long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines turned out to be a damp squib on Saturday 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 businessman Vijay Mallya.

Kingfisher Airlines online auction-AV

This is the second failed attempt by the 17-bank consortium, led by State Bank of India, to recover some money from Mr Mallya, after an earlier auction of Kingfisher House – the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines headquarters – met with a similar fate with no bidder coming forward.

The items on sale in Saturday’s online auction included the Kingfisher logo and also the once-famous tagline ‘Fly the Good Times’. 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 – not even one-tenth of the price at which it was pledged as 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. It was conducted by SBICAP Trustee Company on behalf of lenders under the Sarfaesi Act.

The Kingfisher brand was collateralized to banks for a whopping Rs 4,000 crore (by Grant Thornton) in 2010.

In its annual report for 2012-13, Kingfisher Airlines said that at its peak, it was the largest airline in India, with a five-star rating from consultancy Skytrax. The airline’s brand had been registered separately from the Kingfisher beer trademarks.

“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,” a senior banker said.

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.

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.

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