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“This is an ongoing game; there can't be number one or two. But we always aim to enhance our capacities to its maxim”- Anil Agarwal, founder and Chairman of Vedanta Resources Plc

These words perfectly sum up the determination of the man who has positioned India on the global mining and metals map. An entrepreneur par excellence, Anil Agarwal began from scratch and worked his way up to build a business empire worth US$10 billion.

From a trader to an entrepreneur, from copper to steel, aluminium, iron ore, zinc and power generation, and from riding a scooter in the late 1970s to soaring across continents in his private jet, Agarwal has travelled a long way. Born in 1954 in Rajasthan, to a family not so affluent, Agarwal took responsibility of his father’s business of manufacturing aluminium conductors in 1972 after completing high school in Patna. In 1976, he established Vedanta Resources, which collected scrap from cable companies in other states and sold those in Mumbai. For ten years, he worked in the scrap business and ran a cable company that he bought with a loan of Rs 50, 000 from Syndicate Bank.

In 1979, Agarwal acquired Shamsher Sterling Corporation, which manufactured polyvinyl chloride, control cables, overhead power transmission conductors and enameled copper wire. He ventured into the domain of jelly-field cables in 1986, by setting up a factory at Rs 7 crore against the standard cost of Rs 30-40 crore. The year 1986 also marked the birth of the mining behemoth Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd when Shamsher Sterling Corporation was acquired by Sterlite Cables Ltd and was renamed. Subsequently, Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd became the first company in India to set up a copper smelter and refinery in the private sector and control the largest capacity cast copper rod plants. With the view of strengthening his business, in 1993, Agarwal commissioned a plant to manufacture aluminium sheets and foils and also established a plant under Sterlite Communications to produce optical fibre in Aurangabad.

The next few years witnessed Agarwal’s growth as a business tycoon. He aided the Indian government in the mammoth task of privatising its mining assets. He acquired 80 percent interest in MALCO and Copper Mines of Tasmania Pvt Ltd in 1995 and 1999 respectively. Under his able guidance, Vedanta expanded by acquiring 38.8 percent interest in India Foils Ltd, 51 percent interest in BALCO and 46 percent interest in Hindustan Zinc Ltd.

Agarwal’s phenomenal success has always been driven by carefully coordinated expansion strategies and a keen eye for emerging opportunities in the mining sector. Driven by the endeavour to establish a subsidiary that would have a significant presence in the domestic bauxite mining and exploration segment, Agarwal incorporated Sterlite Transmission Ltd in 2001. Subsequently, the name of the company was changed to Vedanta Alumina Ltd in 2004 in an effort to rebrand the firm in consonance with its operations.

Vedanta Limited. (VAL) was born in 2007 when Vedanta Alumina Ltd’s name was changed and this heralded the beginning of VAL’s journey towards operational excellence based on technological advancements in the aluminium industry coupled with a keen focus on sustainable development. Today, VAL, is one of the leading producers of metallurgical grade alumina and aluminium products with a significant presence in the domestic market coupled with an ever-expanding global footprint.

However, the turning point in Agarwal’s career came in 2003. Agarwal had earlier moved to London, where the world’s largest mining and metals companies were headquartered. Along with Brian Gilbertson, the man behind the $57 billion takeover of BHP by Billiton, Agarwal successfully listed Vedanta Group on the LSE, the first for an Indian business group, thereby becoming a global player in mining and metals in less than a decade. Agarwal’s reputation soared further with the listing of Sterlite Industries on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007.

Today, Agarwal’s empire spans across continents with operations in Zambia, Australia and India. He owns more than 50 percent of the shares in the company, which place him in the elite thirty richest individuals in Great Britain and has been honoured as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2008.

Having come a long way, Agarwal feels this is just the beginning. With an uncanny eye for perfection, he has drawn up big plans. Being in this industry for the last three decades, he has explicit knowledge about the specifics of the business. Achieving global leadership in the metal business is topmost on his agenda. Agarwal intends to become a major player in the Indian energy sector by building power plants with a capacity of 11,000 MW. The Vedanta Group also plans to pump in Rs 70,000 crore in India by 2011-12 to establish itself as the world’s fifth-largest metal and mining entity.

Being a philanthropist by nature, Agarwal nurtures a dream of establishing a world class, multi-disciplinary university in India to strengthen the country’s education and research infrastructure. To be established with an endowment of US$1 billion, the Vedanta University will be at par with world class institutes like Harvard, Stanford and Oxford. The Vedanta Group has undertaken numerous other initiatives focussed on sustainable development in India and Zambia. These initiatives have been undertaken in five major areas, namely Health and Sanitation, Education, Infrastructure, Livelihood and Environment. Needless to say, these programmes have made a huge impact on the socio-economic development of local communities.

Agarwal resides with his wife and two children at Mayfair in central London, and operates from an upscale office in London. Despite his extremely busy schedule, he also visits the Krishna temple in the Soho (London) neighbourhood.

One of the most eminent entrepreneurs of the present era, Agarwal believes that in order to achieve the impossible it is important to visualise the target, measure one’s strengths and plunge in with the determination of winning the goal. It is this belief that drives the achiever within Anil Agarwal to scale greater heights in the corporate world but with the pride, empathy and compassion that lights up the lives of people working with him.
Links to interviews and videos
INTERVIEW: ‘If Everybody Is Dying, We Will Die Last’ 'Don't be too smart, looking foolish
is OK'
'We've enough funds to power our
11,000 mw energy plan'
A conversation with Vedanta
Resources chairman Anil Agarwal
To deliver 6000 MW by 2010, says Vedanta's Anil Agarwal NDTV Profit - Mr Anil Agarwal - Vedanta - Power Expansion Plans
Anil Agarwal on Commodities, Disinvestment, Future Buyouts    
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