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Indian tycoon Mallya prepared to settle debts: FT

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Former Indian airline boss Vijay Mallya said he is prepared to settle millions of dollars owed to banks after the collapse of his firm, in an interview published Friday in the Financial Times.

[LONDON] Former Indian airline boss Vijay Mallya said he is prepared to settle millions of dollars owed to banks after the collapse of his firm, in an interview published Friday in the Financial Times.

"But we wish to settle at a reasonable number that we can afford and banks can justify on the basis of settlements done before," he told the business daily, which gave a figure of £440 million (S$864 million).

Mr Mallya, a part-owner of the Force India Formula 1 team who used to run a liquor empire, left India on March 2 owing more than US$1 billion, and an Indian court last week issued a warrant for his arrest.

India also revoked his passport, after he repeatedly failed to appear before investigators looking into financial irregularities at Kingfisher Airlines, which ceased operating in 2012 leaving millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

On Thursday, the foreign ministry said it had asked Britain to deport the 60-year-old.

Mr Mallya told the Financial Times he was in "forced exile" but had no plans to leave Britain, adding: "By taking my passport or arresting me, they are not getting any money."

His massive debt has become a symbol of Indian banks' vast volume of bad loans - meaning in default or close to it - seen as a threat to financial stability in Asia's third-largest economy.

Critics say the government has not done enough to tackle the issue of wealthy individuals such as Mallya, who obtain huge loans that they later fail to repay.

AFP