Anil Agarwal

Anil Agarwal

Volcan Investments Ltd

Anil Agarwal’s nose for an investment was in clear evidence following the extraordinary climb in Anglo American shares last year. Agarwal had acquired voting control over 19% of the UK group’s shares in 2017, a much-queried transaction that has yet to run its course, one suspects. Analysts don’t think the October delisting of Vedanta – bought from minority shareholders for £778m – and the beachhead acquired in Anglo are connected, however. This is notwithstanding the fact that Volcan Investments, the Agarwal family trust, is the vehicle through which both transactions were conducted. In any event, Agarwal takes his place in Rainmakers & Potstirrers primarily as an African optimist. His reiteration in March that Vedanta would put $1bn into Zambia’s base metals sector may yet be tested given the royalty and fiscal changes being implemented in that country. Other notable events of 2018 which beg questions of 2019 is the appointment of Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, formerly CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, as Vedanta CEO. Venkatakrishnan is a fine manager and communicator with a background in corporate re-engineering. How this may yet play out in Vedanta’s strategy will be a story worth following. One issue for Vedanta to ponder, however, is its reputation for being soft on environmental and humanitarian issues. The UK’s Supreme Court is considering whether some 2,000 Zambians can have their case heard in its court this year. The Zambians claim their lifestyles were damaged as a result of environmental contamination wrought by Vedanta operations.

“Governments must be happy and our communities must flourish."

LIFE OF ANIL

Born in 1956, Agarwal left school at 15 to work in the scrap metal trade until founding Vedanta forerunner Sterlite in 1976. It diversified into cable manufacturing ten years later until listing it on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 where it resided until delisting in October. He once told the Guardian: “I have to project myself. I have to have a Bentley, the best of chauffeurs and butlers.”