The logo of Vedanta Resources sits on a newly molded aluminum ingot at the Impol Seval AD Sevojno plant in Sevojno, Serbia. (Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

Vedanta To Be Among World’s Largest Resource Companies, Says New CEO

Vedanta Resources Plc’s new Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan believes the oil-to-aluminum group can turn into one of the world’s largest resource companies by expanding outside India without compromising on growth within the country.

Venkatakrishnan, a mining executive, took over as the chief executive officer of Vedanta Resources on August 31, replacing Tom Albanese, the former head of Rio Tinto.

The 53-year-old, who worked for 18 years at AngloGold, one of the world’s biggest gold producers, with a five-year stint as the company’s CEO, wants to build the company into a giant producer of commodities that India needs to curb its reliance on imports, create jobs and reduce poverty.

Venkatakrishnan, said in an interview with PTI that huge opportunities exist for Vedanta.

If you look at diversified companies, they come with a bright and strong heritage. Vedanta has a strong heritage in terms of India. Exxon has roots as an American company, BP as a UK company. Likewise, Vedanta, I believe, can grow broader than India without compromising on the growth in India, and becoming one of the largest resource companies.
Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, CEO, Vedanta Resources

The company has already demonstrated the potential in terms of the growth trajectory it has witnessed in past few years, he said.

The goal is to invest in more local production of all commodities. Vedanta will invest $8 billion in the next two-and-a-half years, bigger than miners such as Rio Tinto Group and Anglo have pledged to spend over a similar period.

On the shutdown of copper smelting plant at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu following the killing of protesters in police firing, Venkatakrishnan said he believes that the issue can be resolved through proper consultations and dialogue. Vedanta has a “very good track record for sustainability”, he said without elaborating.

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Billionaire Anil Agarwal, who controls Vedanta, said Venkat is a widely respected business leader in the global resources space and has a strong record managing a complex portfolio of operating assets and projects across Africa. “I am very pleased that he has joined. Everybody knows about him,” Agarwal told PTI.

Vedanta is due to start production at a big zinc mine in South Africa later this year and Venkat said opportunities in Africa are huge. “Agarwal is the single biggest foreign investor in South Africa,” he said. “Outlook is bright. I am very optimistic in terms of future.” He said he wants to give back to his motherland.

Under Venkatakrishnan, an accountant by training, AngloGold completed two new mining projects and achieved significant reductions in costs and debt at the same time as improving productivity

Venkat said he was born in India and lived in the country till 1988 before moving to the UK and then to Africa. “Certainly what Agarwal has achieved by building this group into multi-commodity resource company which is not just one of the biggest in India but competing at world stage has been phenomenal.”