NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal often talks about his dream to turn his London-listed company Vedanta Resources into a global resources giant. He has already bought stakes in big mining companies, such as Anglo American Plc, and says he plans to spend at least $1 billion on investments in Africa.
But in his home country, where he rose from a scrap dealer to a metals magnate, court-imposed fines, costly plant and mine shutdowns, and public protests against his businesses for allegedly polluting the environment, have held back his lofty ambitions and hurt the company’s valuation, according to bankers and analysts.
The struggle with opponents took a particularly ugly turn on Tuesday when police opened fire on protesters seeking to shut down Vedanta’s copper smelter in the southern Indian port city of Thoothukudi, killing 10. Two more people died on Wednesday, and the state government has transferred senior police and administrative officials from the city.
Vedanta said in a statement it regretted the incidents and was working with authorities to ensure the safety of its employees, facilities and the surrounding community.
“This can lead to investors becoming more conscious against investing in the company which can hurt long term sustainability of some of the businesses,” said Shriram Subramanian, managing director of proxy advisory firm InGovern, adding that the violence in southern India suggested they weren’t listening to concerns about the environment and health issues.