Major hunt on for India’s missing billionaire coffee king, Latest World News - The New Paper

Major hunt on for India’s missing billionaire coffee king

This article is more than 12 months old

BANGALORE: Indian police yesterday launched a major hunt for coffee tycoon V.G. Siddhartha, amid mounting fears for the billionaire who admitted in a letter before disappearing that he had "failed as an entrepreneur".

The founder of the Cafe Coffee Day chain that beat Starbucks at its own game in India was last seen on Monday night walking across a bridge in the southern state of Karnataka.

His chauffeur alerted police when Mr Siddhartha did not return.

Police divers, backed by local fishermen, searched the Nethravathi river near Mangalaru while senior Karnataka politicians flocked to the tycoon's home.

Shares in the coffee chain fell 20 per cent as worries over the company grew and its board held an emergency meeting.

Coffee Day Enterprises said directors had discussed a letter to the board purportedly signed by the 57-year-old chairman in which he admitted mistakes handling his affairs.

"I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me," said the letter, which was released by the company.

"I fought for a long time but today I have given up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares."

He also said he had faced "a lot of harassment" from the Indian tax authorities.

"My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, I have failed as an entrepreneur," he declared in the letter, which was dated July 27.

Mr Siddhartha's family has been in the coffee business for more than 130 years. - AFP