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Body of coffee tycoon in India found in river

New Delhi I The body of the founder of India’s largest coffee chain was recovered from the banks of a river on Wednesday, police said, two days after the businessman allegedly jumped off a bridge to commit suicide.

A fisherman detected the body of 59-year-old VG Siddhartha, the founder of Cafe Coffee Day, on the banks of the Nethravathi river in Mangaluru, a port city in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, a police spokesperson told EFE on the condition of anonymity.

“The body has been identified and the autopsy is going on,” the spokesperson said.

The news confirming Siddhartha’s death brought the shares of his flagship listed Coffee Day Enterprises, which has also forayed into technology and logistics, tumbling down for the second consecutive day, with a drop of 19.99 percent until Wednesday noon.

The enterprise also informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) of his “tragic demise”, noting that he had single-handedly built the company with his “matchless energy, vision and business acumen”.

The board of directors of the company in its BSE filing said it had appointed SV Ranganath as its interim chairman.

It also constituted an executive committee vested with the powers of chief executive to “explore opportunities to deleverage the Coffee Day Group”.

The businessman, apparently under a financial strain, had sent a letter to the company’s employees and board of directors in which he said that he was under “tremendous pressure” and facing “harassment” from the Indian income tax authorities.

The board informed the stock exchange that it was verifying the authenticity of the note and had taken “cognizance of statements in the purported letter from VG Siddhartha relating to financial transactions outside the knowledge of the senior management, auditors and the board”.

VG Sidhhartha was last seen alive by his driver near a bridge over the Nethravathi river whose waters have swelled-up due to the monsoon.

The businessman had purportedly asked his driver to drop him off at the bridge, saying he wanted to walk. When he didn’t turn up after some time, the driver informed the police about his disappearance.

Sidhhartha had been missing ever since, triggering speculations that he may have committed suicide.

The tycoon opened the first Cafe Coffee Day in 1996 in Bengaluru in south India, a haven for coffee enthusiasts, and now, more than two decades later, it is a leader in the sector with 1,722 establishments in 245 Indian cities.

The cafes, popularly known as CCDs, became a regular meeting point for both businessmen and young people, who found in them cheap and quiet hangouts. EFE

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