Vijay Mallya's first appearance in an F1 paddock all season was greeted with questions not only about the health of his various Indian business interests, but also the possible knock-on effect that they could have on the Force India
Cornered in the official FIA press conference, the entrepreneur attempted to shrug off suggestions that he was frittering money away on staging parties in Monaco harbour when his Kingfisher airline was struggling to make ends meet as it deals with $1.3bn in debts. More pertinent to F1, meanwhile, was the belief that Mallya's business problems could affect the future of Force India, which led a charmed life between its original incarnation as Jordan and the Indian's takeover of its interests from Spyker in 2007.
“People seem to presume that my only business is Kingfisher airlines, which is in trouble, and therefore I am short of cash,” he told reporters, “I have 20 different businesses, six large publicly listed companies. Each one is completely independent, with different shareholders. One does not cross-subsidise the other because that would violate all the principles of corporate governance. If one business for whatever reason is not doing well, does it mean that every other business has to shut down?”
Mallya pointed to the new relationship with fellow Indian Subrata Roy and the Sahara brand that had previously focused on classic Indian sports such as hockey and cricket before committing $100m in the F1 operation..
"Sahara Force India
is independent, fully funded," he stressed, "It's a joint venture between the Sahara Group and myself, there has been a significant capital infusion at the end of 2011, another significant capital infusion from the Sahara Group is due in 2012 and going beyond to 2013. So, Sahara Force India
is extremely well taken care of and set. I don't quite understand the correlation between sporting interests, which are personal in nature, and my business interests."