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#India – After sucking blood , Anil Agarwal regrets $8 bn #Vedanta aluminium project

Complex govt procedures are delaying project approvals in India, impeding businesses, Agarwal said
Anil Agarwal regrets $8 bn Vedanta aluminium project in India

Agarwal said he plans to devote most of his personal wealth to philanthropy. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
New Delhi: Billionaire Anil Agarwal, who controls London-based Vedanta Resources Plc., said he regrets investing $8 billion in an aluminium complex in India that’s faced a shortage of raw materials.
“I could either invest in Vedanta Aluminium or I could have bought Asarco,” Agarwal said in an interview with Bloomberg TV India in New Delhi aired on Friday. “I would have done better if I had bought Asarco. It would have been a feather in my cap.”
Regarding the investment into Aluminium, Agarwal said: “If you ask me today, I regret it.”
Complex government procedures are delaying project approvals in India, impeding businesses, Agarwal said. His Sesa Sterlite Ltd has seen its iron-ore business slump following court-imposed bans to curb illegal mining, while the group’s failure to obtain a mining permit for bauxite in the eastern state of Odisha has driven the aluminium unit into losses.
Industrialists including Agarwal, Naveen Jindal and Kumar Mangalam Birlahave faced project delays in India.
Vedanta lost a bid in 2009 to acquire bankrupt US copper miner Asarco Llcfor more than $2.5 billion, cheering investors and boosting the company’s stock. Now, Vedanta Aluminium is running below capacity after failing to get approval from local tribes to mine bauxite.
Indian difficulties
Asked if doing business in India is more difficult than elsewhere, Agarwal replied: “That’s for sure.”
His employees have to run from table to table for permission to re-open the company’s iron-ore mine in the southern state of Karnataka, months after a court partially lifted a ban on mining there, he said.
India, which exported 101.5 million tonnes of iron ore in the year to March 2010, banned mining in two of the nation’s biggest producing states in August 2011 and September last year as it probed charges of illegal mining. Exports dropped to 18 million tonnes in the year ended 31 March, while companies have been forced to import, according to the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries. The court-ordered bans have since been eased.
India has the potential to produce as much as 700 million tonnes of the steel-making ingredient if it simplified its policies and quickened approvals, Agarwal said. The nation produced about 140 million tonnes in the year ended 31 March.
Agarwal said he plans to devote most of his personal wealth to philanthropy. In particular, he said, he wants to eradicate malnutrition in India. BLOOMBERG
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