'No plans to retire soon; Vedanta needs my aggression, risk-taking ability'
New Delhi: Mining mogul Anil Agarwal said he has no immediate plans to retire or take a non-executive role at his $18-billion Vedanta Group as he feels it needs his "aggression" and "risk-taking" ability to grow into a world-class resource conglomerate.
Agarwal, 64, who rose from running a tiny scrap metal business four decades back to becoming one of the India's wealthiest tycoons with a business empire spanning across mining and petroleum, indicated that his son Agnivesh or daughter Priya may not head the group as it is "too big to have a family succession plan".
He has delisted his flagship Vedanta Resources from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and is now concentrating on growing mineral mining and oil and gas businesses out of the India-listed firm, Vedanta Ltd.
"I own 50 per cent of the company (Vedanta Ltd) and even out of that 75 per cent has been pledged to philanthropy," he told PTI in an interview.
Virtually ruling out someone from his family succeeding him, he said: "No large company like this should have the family ownership", adding that Agnivesh and Priya "have their own passion and are doing very well." His son is based in Dubai but not much is known about him, while his daughter has been on the boards of some of his companies, including oil explorer Cairn India.
"They (children) have their own passion. My children are very capable and they are doing very well," he said, adding he has hired the finest CEOs to run the group.
"Time to come, we will remain shareholders and company should be run as an institution. But at the moment, you need a visionary, you need somebody to drive. Like nobody can think of producing half a million barrels oil in such a short time unless you have aggression, you have entrepreneurship, you can take the bull by the horn. And you have risk-taking capability. And I think I will provide that for my country," he said. Asked if this meant he has no plans to retire soon or take a non-executive role, he snapped back, "Why should I hang (my boots). I have a task (to finish)."
Agarwal had in 2012 indicated that he would in 3-4 years time step back from the driving seat to take the mentoring role of non-executive chairman.
He, however, said he has "covered myself very well" by appointing "extremely capable CEOs and executives" to run the institution well.
Forbes magazine ranks him as the 37th richest India with a personal wealth of $3.9 billion. Agarwal, in September 2014, had announced that he and his family will put 75 per cent of their wealth in a charitable trust. He turned a tiny scrap metal business into London-listed Vedanta Resources with copper, zone and aluminum assets.
Known as the acquisition man who bought loss-making government firms like Balco and Hindustan Zinc and turned them around, he in 2011 forayed into the oil and gas business by acquiring Cairn India. He said he has the ambition to double oil production to 500,000 barrels per day in 2-3 years.
Vedanta has long carried a heavy debt burden, a legacy of the growth of its copper, aluminum, iron ore and energy businesses as Agarwal set about to build India's first integrated global resources business on the lines of Rio Tinto of the US or BHP Billiton of Australia.
"I want to fashion Vedanta as a world scale resources company out of India," he said.
In March 2017, he bought 12 per cent stake in London-listed miner Anglo American for $2.4 billion through his family trust, then later raised it to about 22 per cent.
In July 2018, Agarwal announced he was taking Vedanta private and offered $1 billion for the one-third of the metals firm that he did not already own. His listed Sterlite Technologies hived off its power transmission business into a separate unit and listed an infrastructure investment trust.