He is a soft spoken shy person who prefers Hindi to Queen’s English — despite the fact that he stays barely a kilometre away from the Queen herself, in the heart of London. Anil Agarwal, chairman of UK based Vedanta Resources, has grown from a metal scrap dealer in Bombay back in 1976 to head India’s third largest business conglomerate, but he has not lost his moorings. Agarwal spoke to Hindustan Times after adding another feather in his cap — a foray into the oil sector.
When did you think about getting into the oil sector and why did you chose that sector?
We are a resource-based company and are always on the look out for untapped rich natural resources. Having achieved many goals in the metals space, I was particularly interested in oil as it is another resource where our country is deficient. The import of oil into India is very high and is also growing exponentially. I will be happy if we can bring that down.
What drew your interest in Cairn India?
I have been studying the company for quite some time, and I realised over the last few months that they are a very capable company with a high level of expertise in exploration. But they have no interest in operations or management. For a resource-based company like us, it made perfect sense to align with Cairn India.
What synergies do you see between Cairn India and Vedanta?
There are many. If you look at Vedanta, each of our companies is driven and managed through the heart and not as a typical commercial organisation. Balco, Sesa Goa or Hindustan Zinc ... you will find a lot of passion driving each employee of these companies. It is the same with Cairn India as well. I believe that we can utilise the full potential of the company and help it scale up.
Will there be any change in the way the company works? Any change in the name?
Absolutely not. Cairn is a very well managed, efficiently run, listed company and on the ground level nothing will change. The management is also a very capable one and will stay the same. In all our previous acquisitions — Balco, Sesa Goa or Hindustan Zinc — we did not change the name and the same holds true for Cairn. Whatever plans Cairn had will be carried out as envisioned.
When do your power and coal mining plans take off?
Our first power generating unit of 600 MW will be operational in Orissa later this month while our coal mine in Chhatisgarh will be commissioned by January 2011.
What drives you?
The willingness to work and to do so for the right reasons. Earning wealth is right only so long as it is done for other people and for the society. I am clear that a majority 75 per cent of my wealth will go back to the society.