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Mr. Ketan Mehta, a mid level manager in an FMCG company who owns about 1000 shares of the financially struggling Kingfisher Airlines, demanded a dividend during the recent annual general meeting of Kingfisher shareholders held in Bangalore, triggering howls of laughter from those gathered including group chairman Vijay Mallya.
In a fit of spontaneity, Mr. Mehta stood up and forcefully insisted that the company management pay a dividend to shareholders to compensate for the steady decline in share price every since Kingfisher went public. “I bought 2000 shares of KF about 4 years ago when it was trading at Rs. 100 per share and now it’s worth less than Rs. 10. Hey, can’t we shareholders at least get a decent dividend, say Rs. 90 per share, so that we at least get a 0% return on our investments?” demanded Mr. Mehta earnestly.
A few moments of silence ensued, as the import of Mehta’s message sunk in. And then the floodgates burst as the room drowned in a tizzy of bellyaching laughter.
“Haven’t laughed like this in years, man,” said Vijay Mallya, wiping tears from his eyes. “We don’t even pay our vendors or fuel suppliers, KF has been defaulting on taxes, and we ask banks for more loans when the question of debt servicing comes up. Heck man, even salaries for Kingfisher staff including pilots have been pending for months. And this chap is asking us to pay a dividend? Thanks Ketan, for giving us a good time!”
The ‘King of Good Times’ rolled over and resumed his guffawing and desk thumping, inducing another wave of jocundity all around.
Before long the news of the hilarious incident had spread through social media and SMS. A Kingfisher flight from Delhi to Bangalore made an unscheduled stop-over in Mumbai after the pilot received the news and was thereafter not in a position to discharge his duties, overcome as he was by mirth. Irate passengers saw the funny side of it and had a hearty laugh after the details of the incident were narrated to them and the plane resumed its journey shortly thereafter.
Mr. Mehta however doesn’t see the funny side of it at all. “Why does everyone burst into giggles whenever I raise the issue of paying dividends to KF shareholders? Don’t they have the right to expect a decent return on their investment?” he wondered when contacted by The Unreal Times.
(Based on a theme by Pankaj Vaidya)