Vedanta's Anil Agarwal joins charity league with $2.475 billion pledge
27 September 2014
Vedanta Group chairman, one of the richest Indian businessmen, has pledged 75 per cent of his $3.3 billion family wealth to charity, making available around $2.475 billion for philanthropic spending.
Agarwal is expected to spend part of the funds for setting up a new university to foster liberal arts and humanities.
Agarwal, who had disclosed to Forbes Asia five years back that he had pledged to donate much of his family fortune to charity, publicly reaffirmed that promise recently at an event in London to mark a decade of Vedanta's London listing.
''We have decided we have to give back to society, ''a Reuters report quoted Agarwal, whose net worth is now at $3.5 billion, as saying.
Agarwal made the announcement on Thursday evening at an event at the London Stock Exchange to mark a decade of his company's premium listing. Vedanta Resources was also the first Indian company in 2003 to gain such a listing, which qualified it to enter the FTSE 250 (See: Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal to donate 75% of wealth to charity).
Agarwal is expected to announce plans for charity in the near future, company sources said.
Agarwal now joins several leaders of Indian industry who have pledged considerable sums of money for charitable activities.
In 2013, Azim Premji, chairman of Bangalore-based software exporter Wipro Ltd, became the first Indian to join the `Giving Pledge' programme, which seeks to encourage the world's wealthiest to give away half their wealth to charity.
The programme was founded by Microsoft founder and the world's richest man Bill Gates, who is worth $76 billion, and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, the world's 3rd-richest person with personal wealth of $67.3 billion.
Agarwal said Gates and his wife, Melinda, discussed their philanthropic causes with him in Seattle last summer. ''After that, I had a meeting with my family and we decided to donate 75 per cent of our wealth,'' he said.
Anil Agrawal was among a group of wealthy people who congregated last weekend in Mumbai at a philanthropy meeting co-hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates and tech tycoon Azim Premji.
The mining magnate, however, has been a controversial figure because of his company's plans to mine bauxite in eastern India in the teeth of opposition by local tribals. While that has now been put on hold, his oil and gas firm Cairn India got into a tangle with investors for agreeing to lend $1 billion to its parent Sesa Sterlite (a subsidiary of Vedanta).
Agarwal had made known a grand plan to donate $1 billion to build a new university in eastern India that aspired to be a Stanford University clone. But the dream got buried in land acquisition issues and is yet to see the light of day.
Agarwal said Vedanta's listing has provided an excellent platform for growth over the last ten years. In this decade, Vedanta has offered global investors exposure to the fast-growing Indian market.
Vedanta's share price has increased by 175 per cent since its listing, outperforming the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 Mining indices by a significant margin. The Group has delivered a total shareholder return of 12 per cent per annum since flotation, returning $1.4 billion of capital to shareholders.
Today, Vedanta is amongst the largest globally-diversified natural resources company. It has increased production ten-fold since 2003, with strong organic growth supported by select acquisitions, including Cairn India, KCM, Anglo American Zinc and Sesa Goa. With an EBITDA of approximately $4.5 billion for the financial year 2014, the combined market capitalization of all of the Group's listed companies currently stands at approximately $40 billion.
The Group now employs 88,000 people directly and indirectly across four continents, with a particular focus on India and Africa, where it holds the majority of its assets. Its community development programme has benefited over 4 million people in local communities where the Group operates.