Sachiin Joshi on buying Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Villa: After 12 years, I had the opportunity
'Kings takes over Kingfisher' could quite possibly be the one phrase that neatly sums up actor-entrepreneur Sachiin Joshi's acquiring Kingfisher Villa — a property that until last year, belonged to liquor and aviation baron Vijay Mallya.
On Saturday, 8 April 2017, the Times of India reported that after three failed auction attempts, the Kingfisher Villa — a plush bungalow built over three acres, right by Candolim Beach in Goa — had been bought by Joshi, the chairman of Viiking Ventures. In April 2016, the Villa had been taken over by SBI, which is leading a consortium of 17 investors whose loans (amounting to over Rs 900 crore) Mallya defaulted on.
Over three attempts, the reserve price for the Villa (the worth of which one report last year had pegged at around Rs 90 crore) was reduced and Joshi's winning bid this time is reportedly, marginally higher than the reserve price of Rs 73 crore.
This is not the first major acquisition for Joshi — in 2015, his company bought over the Kings Beer brand for a neat Rs 90 crore.
Joshi also has interests in the entertainment industry and has acted in and produced films like Aazaan, Jackpot and Mumbai Mirror, as well as a slew of Telugu movies.
Joshi is currently in London, but responded to Firstpost via an email sent through his publicist, and confirmed that he was indeed the new owner of Kingfisher Villa.
"A couple of years ago, I ventured into the alcohol business and acquired the Kings brand, which we then relaunched as 'Goa Kings'. (So there is that connection...)," Joshi wrote. "And a very long time ago — this was in 2006 or 2007 — I had been to Kingfisher Villa for a party. I do believe it's among the finest properties I've seen and I had thought that if the opportunity arises, I would buy it someday. In fact, I had even mentioned to a friend, that if one is to build or buy (a property) it should be like Kingfisher Villa. And here we are. After nearly 12 years, I had the opportunity to buy it, and I did."
Joshi said he had seen the reports of the previous failed auctions in the news. It was when he read of it happening for the third time, that he says he sensed an opportunity:
"So I contacted SBI, went through all the various rigorous procedures to work out the deal under a private treaty, as per the laws, and I am now the owner of Kingfisher Villa."
Kingfisher Villa includes a main mansion that has a large living room, three bedrooms (including one apartment-seized bedroom that faces the Arabian sea), a large garden, swimming pools and a dance floor that was sometimes used by Mallya as a helipad. Mallya's initials ('VM') flanked the gate to the Villa on both sides, in massive, gilt letters.
The initials will probably be the first to go, although the property's new owner isn't divulging at present what his plans for the property are — whether it will be used as a private holiday home by his family (including wife Raina Joshi, formerly known as the model-actress Urvashi Sharma, and their daughter Samaira) or if he intends to convert it into a commercial venture, such as a resort.
Joshi's hospitality ventures already include the Playboy clubs' chain and the Planet Hollywood resort in Goa.
"Once my plans for Kingfisher Villa are finalised, I'll certainly announce it," Joshi told Firstpost.
With such an expensive acquisition on his hands, one wonders if Joshi is going to shift his focus purely to his business empire, or if films continue to be on his radar. "I am always juggling many hats and I like to make optimum use of my resources. I intend to continue playing many roles, be it that of an actor, entrepreneur or father," he said.
As for what he thought of United Breweries chairman and Kingfisher Airlines founder Vijay Mallya's loan default case, Joshi replied: "I can't say why Mr Mallya is stuck in such a position after having owned one of the most successful brands and companies. What went wrong is something he knows best. All I can say is, running an airline is not a profitable venture. It's very labour and money intensive. But I do learn from stories of both success, and failure."