The VG Siddhartha Whodunit
VG Siddhartha (Source: Coffee Day Annual Report/ BloombergQuint)

The VG Siddhartha Whodunit


The dogs lost the scent somewhere in the middle of the bridge on which his driver dropped him off Monday. The rescue boats worked the river all evening and next day hoping to pick up the trail.

On Wednesday morning they found the body of VG Siddhartha, the former investment banker-turned-entrepreneur. The owner of India’s biggest coffee retail chain turned logistics, real estate, hospitality and financial services magnate. The son-in-law of a prominent Congress turned BJP politician. The rescuer of IT companies turned man who needed rescuing himself. Except no one came forward.

It’s public money, said the lenders demanding it back, having shown little memory of that when they first handed it out.

The debt markets refused to rollover after IL&FS put them through the wringer.

The economy, it plain refused to pick up.

The income tax department said we didn’t do anything wrong by seizing his shares, we were only protecting the interests of revenue.

The interest clock said I can’t help but keep ticking.

The private equity investors said we’ve been invested 9 years and haven’t sold any shares except once last year, maintaining silence on any buyback pressure.

The equity markets, already weighed down by a slowing economy and grumbling HNIs, pushed the shares of Siddhartha’s companies even lower.

Leaving him with even less (pledge) cover.

Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. - Share Price Chart (YTD)
Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. - Share Price Chart (YTD)

They said he left a letter - in which he blamed lenders, a private equity investor, a tax officer...but mostly himself.

“I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts.”
“I have failed as an entrepreneur.”

The letter concealed as much as it revealed.

I am solely responsible for all mistakes. Every financial transaction is my responsibility. My team, auditors and senior management are totally unaware of all my transactions. The law should hold me and only me accountable, as I have withheld this information from everybody including my family.

The hunt may soon take a different direction. Sometimes even death doesn’t bring closure.

Menaka Doshi is Managing Editor at BloombergQuint.

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