India’s Anil Agarwal succeeds with Vedanta Resources buyout

Billionaire Anil Agarwal is the founder and chairman of Vedanta, India’s largest mining company. (Image courtesy of Vedanta)

Vedanta Resources’ Chairman Anil Agarwal will take the London-listed miner private on Oct. 1, his family trust said on Monday, a step seen by some in the industry as a prelude to a potentially broader deal with bigger miner Anglo American.

The Volcan Investments trust, which held about two thirds of Vedanta’s London-listed arm before it announced a roughly $1 billion buyout offer in July, said holders of 26 percent of shares had agreed to sell.

Volcan now holds or has received acceptances for 92.31 percent of Vedanta’s shares, it said, adding the offer would remain open for acceptances from shareholders until further notice.

Agarwal has said he wanted to buy out the London listing, which is dwarfed by Vedanta’s Indian operation, to simplify the company’s structure. Analysts and fund managers have said the move could also reduce the scrutiny the company has received as a result of leaks and fatalities.

Industry players have speculated too that Agarwal, who holds almost 20 percent of Anglo American, wants some form of tie-up with the global miner, and they see the move on Vedanta Resources as a step to creating a more sellable group.

Indian newspaper Mint reported in early July that Agarwal was seeking to merge Vedanta with Anglo’s South African unit and Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, formerly head of Johannesberg-listed AngloGold Ashanti has just taken over as CEO of Vedanta Resources.

Agarwal, who is Anglo American’s biggest shareholder through his family trust, has played down speculation he is seeking a tie-up with Anglo.

However, he has indicated that he wants to grow Vedanta into a major diversified player.

Volcan had been expected to face some shareholder resistance to the buyout.

Vedanta’s international operations are copper mines in Zambia and Vedanta Zinc, with operations in South Africa and Namibia. A tie-up with Anglo American would give the Indian firm access to diamonds, copper, platinum, coal, iron ore, nickel and manganese markets.

The appointment of Venkat, who worked with AngloGold for 18 years and led it for five, follows a bounce in metals prices that has prompted Vedanta to expand zinc and aluminium output, bolstering a recovery from the commodities price slump that ended in 2016.

The first Indian company to list in London in 2003 in a 500 million pound ($644 million) offering, Vedanta is also waiting to hear from a judicial committee on whether it can reopen a copper smelter in southern India that was shut by authorities after violent protests in which 13 were killed.

(By Noor Zainab Hussain. Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in London; Editing by Patrick Graham and Mark Potter).


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