Metal and mining magnate Anil Agarwal is in the news again, this time for announcing an investment of Rs 1.54 lakh crore to set up a semiconductor chipset manufacturing plant in Gujarat in partnership with Taiwan-based Foxconn.
The founder and chairman of Vedanta Resources Limited has also announced an investment of Rs 25,000 crore in Odisha, raising the company’s initial investment of Rs 80,000 crore in the coastal state.
For the unversed, Vedanta is the first company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Given his modest beginnings, – this boy from Bihar knew only two English words, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – it’s an incredible story of what grit and determination can achieve.
Born in a Marwari family, he joined his father’s business of aluminium conductors and scrap metal trading.
At 19, he left the cosy world of his family home in Patna for the hard grind of Mumbai.
His sharp business acumen and entrepreneurship skills enabled him to make bold decisions. He acquired a copper company Shamsher Sterling Corporation, which was on the brink of bankruptcy, raising Rs 16 lakhs from family and friends.
For 10 years, he administered both the businesses simultaneously – his family venture and Shamsher Sterling Corporation – and in 1986 he founded Sterlite Industries, which went on to become the largest producer of copper in India.
The company launched an IPO in 1988 to finance its polythene-insulated, jelly-filled copper telephone cable plant. Seven years later, Agarwal acquired an 83% stake in Madras Aluminium Company for Rs 55 crore.
By now, he had become exceptionally skilled at identifying undervalued assets and turning them around into profit-making ventures. A case in point is the way he acquired a mine in Tasmania for just $2.5 million and turned it into an annual revenue stream of $100 million. He also acquired Hindustan Zinc, another PSU sold by the government as part of its disinvestment programme, in 2002.
This is the story of Vedanta Resources Limited’s founder who arrived in Mumbai with a tiffin box and a bed. He shared a room with seven others for Rs. 21. All he had was dreams in his eyes and belief in his heart.
His inner flame continued to flicker even after Vedanta Resources was listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2003. Vedanta has acquired several mines in Africa, Australia and other regions. Now, he has turned his focus on the oil and natural gas sector. Agarwal has announced a $9 billion deal to acquire Cairn India, the country’s largest private sector oil producer.
With his zeal to scale greater heights intact, he surely wouldn’t stop here.