Coffee magnate VG Siddhartha’s body was found in a river two days after he first went missing in Mangalore, India.
Siddhartha was a 59 year old business tycoon. He was the son in law of former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna. He also had two children with his wife.
Siddhartha used the profits from his family’s coffee plantation to make an investment firm. He then used that money to make a cafe called Coffee Day.
After meeting with the owners of German coffee chain Tchibo, he decided to open a restaurant chain. His chain rivaled even Starbucks in India.
Former VC of the Indian Coffee Board Dr SM Kavarappa told BBC Hindi, “He is singularly responsible for increasing domestic coffee consumption in India. There can be no doubt about it. In those days, we were completely dependent upon the export market and the heavy regulations on its sale.”
Siddhartha is responsible for the Coffee Day chain in India. The chain has 1750 cafes across the country and even has some international outlets. In the last two years, competition has reduced its rate of growth.
Independently, Siddhartha owned 33% of the company. Through his family, he owned 50%. Reports suggested that he was about to sell the chain to Coca Cola for $1.4 billion.
On Sunday evening, the tycoon was on his way to Mangalore. He told his driver to stop over the Netravati river. He told his driver he wanted to take a walk and asked him to park the car ahead.
The driver called the police after half an hour when Mr Siddhartha did not return the call. He found his number turned off.
The police searched the river on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, a fisherman found his body in the river. The tycoon’s family confirmed that it was his body after it was taken to the hospital.
Before disappearing, Siddhartha wrote a letter to his board of directors. It has since been verified by his family and shared with the stock exchange.
The letter says that the tycoon “failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts.” The letter also accuses an income tax director of harrasing him and driving him to a “serious liquidity crunch.”
The letter also reads, “I am solely responsible for all mistakes. Every financial transaction is my responsibility. My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody. I have failed as an entrepreneur.”
The company’s board has not yet accepted that the letter is authentic. It has said it would “thoroughly investigate the matter.”
Coffee Day Enterprises Limited held a board meeting on Monday after the tycoon’s disappearance was confirmed. It asked for “the support and strength of all our stakeholders.”
The company also addressed the stock exchange, ensuring them that the company was “professionally managed and led by a competent business team”. They said “continuity” would not be affected.
Since his disappearance, shares of his company have decreased by 20%.
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