UDAIPUR: Known in the industry as ‘Metal King’ Anil Agarwal can easily earn a moniker like ‘takeover tycoon’. While strategic acquisitions have helped him build a business empire worth $70 billion, what places him in the unique league of visionaries is his foresight to identify assets and turn them around.
BALCO and Hindustan Zinc stand out as extraordinary stories of transformation even though the list could be extended to Sesa Goa, Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia and many others. Hindustan Zinc has grown five-fold — from less than 2 lakh tonnes to over 1 million tonne of metal production. The silver vertical was almost non-existence at the time of disinvestment in 2002. But today, Hindustan Zinc is India’s largest silver producer. The trajectory of BALCO tracks a similar breathtaking journey.
After taking over Cairn India last year, Agarwal is nurturing a new vision – to make India an energy sufficient nation.
“The production levels of Cairn India have already started increasing. The near-term growth is seen at 2.4 lakh barrel per day,” said Agarwal, who is on a two-day visit to Udaipur, the headquarters of Hindustan Zinc.
Cairn India is one of the largest private-sector crude oil producers in India and contributes 20% to India’s oil production.
But he said they want to ramp up production further, and to achieve 3 lakh bpd, they need to explore more blocks.
Besides oil and gas, Vedanta Resources has rolled out an ambitious pipeline of power projects with some contribution from renewable energy.
“We are targeting to produce 10,000 megawatt (MW) of thermal power in coming two-three years, out of which more than 50% has already been commissioned and operational. The company is also one of the largest promoters of green energy with 275 MW of wind farms in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra,” said Agarwal.
Although he grew up in Goria Toli, one of the most backward areas in Patna, Agarwal owes his business acumen to Marwari roots. His parents originally hailed from Rajasthan but later migrated to Bihar.
After college, he came to Mumbai with a dream and started a scrap business. That led him to try his hands at various other ventures and in the process, he shut down nine businesses in a span of just 10 years.
“When you struggle you actually learn a lot,” said Agarwal. Today, he sits over a business empire that spawns over several geographies but the heart lies in India where Vedanta has invested about $16 billion of foreign capital.