Business & Economy

Want to play the role of catalyst in helping Bihar grow: Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal

Vedanta Group plans to invest $20 billion in India over the next four years

Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal on May 1 announced that his company would invest $20 billion across all its businesses in India over the next four years.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the company’s ‘Nand Ghar’, a social initiative under the philanthropic arm of the conglomerate, Agarwal said, “At the moment, we have a plan to invest USD 20 billion across sectors in four years time.” The investments will be focused on technology, electronics, and glass businesses apart from the other activities that the group is engaged in, he said.

The billionaire from Bihar said he wants to play the role of a catalyst in helping his home state grow, but “there is a need for strong support from the policy front for it”.

Vedanta wants to take the total number of Nand Ghars — under which it takes care of children’s nutritional requirements in villages — to 25,000 over the next two years from the present 6,000, Agarwal, who was speaking on the sidelines of an event to announce scaling up of the group’s philanthropic activities, said.

The ultimate plan is to increase the number of beneficiaries to over 7 crore children and 2 crore women, he said.

Agarwal said the group may also look at investing in the entertainment business going forward but did not offer any timeline or investment details.

All successful corporates in the world have interests in education, healthcare, sports and entertainment, he said, conceding that he “does not understand entertainment a lot”.
More than profits, entertainment has to be looked at a means to instil the right cultural values, he added.

Semi-conductors and glass — used in making smartphones and laptops screens — are very essential from a future perspective, he said, adding that the group is present in both the businesses already.

It has land in Gujarat for a semiconductor plant and is scouting for a credible and strong partner, he said.

On the glass front, it is already into manufacturing in other countries but not in India, Agarwal said, hinting that the plan would involve undertaking some capacity building locally.
Meanwhile, when asked about the steel business sale, which was supposed to be sold by March, Agarwal said a transaction depends on getting the right price.

“We are committed… if we get the right price to divest it,” he said, adding that if the group doesn’t get the right price, it will choose to continue running the business by itself.
He said the steel business is profitable and has really committed people who can ensure that it continues going ahead.

Amid concerns around the debt position of the company, Agarwal said the overall debt of the company stands at only USD 12 billion at present and seemed to suggest that the same is manageable.

He said the group has never defaulted on any of its debt repayment commitments, and that each of the businesses will require heavy investments if it were to be started from scratch.
The London-based billionaire said he “is in very critical areas” and added that every developed economy has made it big by focusing on minerals under the ground.

He rued that there are concerns on the environmental impact of mining in India.
Foreign investors are very keen to take bets on India, he said, hoping for “simplification and encouragement for entrepreneurs after the elections”.

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