Anil Agarwal (industrialist)

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Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal at 2017 FICCI - IIFA Global Business Forum 02.jpg
Agarwal at 2017 FICCI - IIFA Global Business Forum
OccupationChairman of Vedanta Resources
Known forThe Vedanta Foundation, Sterlite Industries
Spouse(s)Kiran Agarwal
Children2 - Agnivesh (son) and Priya (daughter)

Anil Agarwal (born 1954) is the founder and Chairman of Vedanta Resources Limited.[2][3] He controls Vedanta Resources through Volcan Investments, a holding vehicle with a 100% stake in the business.[4]

Early life[edit]

Agarwal was born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, India. His father Dwarka Prasad Agarwal had a small aluminium conductor business.[5][6] He studied at Miller High School, Patna.[7][8] and decided to join his father's business, making aluminium conductors, instead of going to university.[9] At 19, he left Patna for Mumbai (then Bombay) to explore career opportunities.[10]


In the mid-1970s, he began trading in scrap metal, collecting it from cable companies in other states and selling it in Mumbai.[11] In 1976, Anil Agarwal acquired Shamsher Sterling Corporation, a manufacturer of enameled copper, among other products, with a bank loan. For the next 10 years, he ran both businesses. In 1986, he set up a factory to manufacture jelly-filled cables, creating Sterlite Industries. He soon realized that the profitability of his business was volatile, fluctuating with the prices of his raw materials: copper and aluminium. So he decided to control his input costs by manufacturing the metals instead of buying them.[12]

In 1993, Sterlite Industries became the first private sector company in India to set up a copper smelter and refinery.[13] In 1995, Sterlite Industries acquired Madras Aluminium, a 'sick' company that had been shut down for 4 years and held by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).[14] The next step of the backward integration process seemed natural: mining.

His first opportunity came when the government announced a disinvestment program. In 2001, he acquired 51 percent in Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO), a public sector undertaking; in the very next year, he acquired a majority stake (nearly 65 per cent) in state-run HZL(Hindustan Zinc Limited). Both the companies were considered sleepy and inefficient mining firms.[15]

To access international capital markets, Anil Agarwal and his team incorporated Vedanta Resources Plc in 2003 in London. At the time of its listing, Vedanta Resources Plc, was the first Indian firm to be listed on London Stock Exchange, on 10 December 2003,[16] Vedanta Resources became the parent company of the group through a process of internal restructuring of group companies and their shareholding.

In 2004 Vedanta Resources Plc announced a global bond offering[17] and acquired Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia, Africa.[18] In 2007, Vedanta Resources acquired a controlling stake in Sesa Goa Limited, India's largest producer-exporter of iron ore,[19] and in 2010, the company acquired South African miner Anglo American's portfolio of zinc assets in Namibia, Ireland and South Africa.[20] The next year, Vedanta Resources acquired controlling stake in Cairn India, India's largest private sector oil-producing firm.[21] The merger of Sesa Goa and Sterlite Industries was announced in 2012, as part of the Vedanta Group's consolidation.[22]

Vedanta Resources, headquartered in London, is a globally diversified natural resources conglomerate, with interests in zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, aluminium, power generation, and oil and gas.[23] The greatest share of its assets, however, is in India; Agarwal lives in London.

In October 2017, it was announced that Agrawal's Volcan Holdings Plc had taken a 19% stake in mining company Anglo American, making him biggest shareholder of the company.[24]

According to The Sunday Times Rich List in 2020 his net worth was estimated at £8.5 billion.[25]

Controversy and criticism[edit]

In 2004, a committee of the Indian Supreme Court charged that Vedanta had dumped thousands of tons of arsenic-bearing slag near its factory in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, resulting in major poisoning of the environment and neighbouring population. In 2005, another committee of the Indian Supreme Court charged that Vedanta had forced over one hundred indigenous families from their homes in the Indian state of Odisha, where it sought to mine bauxite. According to the committee's report: "An atmosphere of fear was created through the hired goons", and residents were "beaten up by the employees of M/s Vedanta". Vedanta's actions in Odisha were rebuked by the British commerce agency, and the Church of England investment funds sold their shares in the company in protest. In Zambia, Vedanta dumped hazardous waste into the Kafue River, from its copper mine there, according to a lawsuit filed by 2,000 residents, resulting in widespread human illness and the death of fish. A local judge stated: "This was lack of corporate responsibility and criminal, and a tipping point for corporate recklessness". In 2014, an audit was begun by Zambian officials due to suspicions that Vedanta has not been paying its proper fees to the government. In addition, "hundreds of former mine workers are fighting Vedanta for severance or disability pay."

Thoothukudi violence[edit]

In March and April 2018, there were renewed mass-protests against the company's plans of setting up a second smelting complex and to demand a shutdown of its Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) smelting plants, on grounds of violating environmental regulations. On 22 May 2018 the protests took a deadlier turn as 13 people were killed and several others injured,[26] following a police shooting. Section 144 was imposed to control the situation.[4][27]


In 1992, Anil Agarwal created the Vedanta Foundation as the vehicle through which the group companies would carry out their philanthropic programs and activities.[28] In the financial year 2013–14, the Vedanta group companies and the Vedanta foundation invested US$49.0 million in building hospitals, schools and infrastructure, conserving the environment and funding community programs that improve health, education and livelihood of over 4.1 million people.[29] The initiatives were undertaken in partnership with the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Among his inspirations, Agarwal counts Andrew Carnegie and David Rockefeller who built public works with their fortunes, and Bill Gates.[30][31] The activities funded by his philanthropy are focused on child welfare, women empowerment and education.

Anil Agarwal was ranked second in Hurun India Philanthropy List 2014 for his personal donation of Rs. 1,796 crore (about $360 million). He was ranked 25th in the Hurun India Rich List with a personal fortune of 12,316cr.[32][33]

In 2015, the Vedanta group in partnership with Ministry for Women and Child development inaugurated the first "Nand Ghar" or modern anganwadi, of the 4,000 planned to set up.[34] Agarwal has pledged to donate 75% of his family's wealth to charity, saying he was inspired by Bill Gates.[6]

Honours and awards[edit]

Vedanta was stripped of international safety awards after it was found it failed to declare its involvement one of the worst industrial accidents in India's history.[40]


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: Anil Agarwal & family". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Leadership". Vedanta. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  3. ^ Srikar Muthyala (29 September 2015). "The List of Great Entrepreneurs of India in 2015". MyBTechLife. Archived from the original on 14 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b Moya, Elena (6 September 2010). "Vedanta investors look into human rights issues in India". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  5. ^ "The mine millionaire - Indian Express". Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Anil Agarwal pledges 75% of his wealth to charity". Business Standard. 27 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Lunch with BS - Anil Agarwal". Business Standard. 27 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Vedanta founder is a daring". Deccan Herald. 22 August 2010.
  9. ^ "Profile - Anil Agarwal". The Guardian. 28 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Don't be too smart, looking foolish is OK". Rediff Money. 15 February 2005.
  11. ^ "Anil Agarwal on Simplicity and Determination at Vedanta Resources". bcg.perspectives. 11 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Anil Agarwal's Big Bang Theory". Forbes. 18 August 2009.
  13. ^ "Bold Baron". India Today. 10 September 2010.
  14. ^ "Madras Aluminium Company Limited". my iris.
  15. ^ "Vedanta may offer 25% higher price for HZL, Balco stake". Economic Times. 22 August 2012.
  16. ^ "Vedanta Resources formally lists on LSE". Rediff. 10 December 2003.
  17. ^ "Vedanta Resources Plc announces pricing for $1.7 bn bond". Business Standard. 23 May 2013.
  18. ^ "Vedanta buys Zambia mine". Business Standard. 21 August 2004.
  19. ^ "Vedanta buys Sesa Goa for $981 m". Business Standard. 25 April 2007.
  20. ^ "Vedanta to buy UK firm's zinc assets for $1.3 bn". Business Standard. 11 May 2010.
  21. ^ "Vedanta completes deal with Cairn India". Business Standard. 9 December 2011.
  22. ^ "Sesa Goa, Sterlite merger becomes effective". The Times of India. 17 August 2013.
  23. ^ "Vedanta Resources". Forbes. May 2014.
  24. ^ "Billionaire Agarwal increases stake in Anglo American to 19%". Bloomberg. October 2017.
  25. ^ Times, The Sunday. "Rich List 2020: profiles 1-20. James Dyson tops the list". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Two days after police kill 13 anti-Sterlite protestors in Thoothukudi, sorrow and anger fill the air". 28 May 2018.
  27. ^ Story, Louise; Saul, Stephanie (7 February 2015). "Stream of Foreign Wealth Flows to Elite New York Real Estate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  28. ^ "Mining baron Anil Agarwal's father dies at 87; associated with Vedanta Foundation for last three decades". Firstpost. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Sesa Sterlite wins Asian CSR Leadership Award". The Navhind Times. 15 October 2014.
  30. ^ Satapathy, Bhupesh Bhandari Dillip (6 December 2014). "Anil Agarwal: Charity on his mind". Business Standard India. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  31. ^ "How Andrew Carnegie set the stage for Bill Gates to give away his fortune, altering philanthropy forever". GeekWire. 8 February 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Hurun India Philanthropy List 2013". Hurun. 13 November 2013. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  33. ^ "Vedanta mining tycoon Anil Agarwal vows to give away fortune". The Times. 26 September 2014.
  34. ^ IANS (25 June 2015). "Nand Ghar project launched by Vedanta, women and child ministry". Business Standard India. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  35. ^ "ET Awards 2012: Anil Agarwal is the Business Leader of the Year". The Economic Times. 19 September 2012.
  36. ^ "Past winners". Archived from the original on 27 September 2014.
  37. ^ "The Asian Awards". April 2016.
  38. ^ "Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal wins One Globe Forum award". Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  39. ^ "Impact Tale". Career Connect (1): 40. June 2016.
  40. ^ Bowers, Simon (28 August 2010). "Vedanta stripped of safety awards in light of Indian site disaster". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2018.

External links[edit]