Vedanta Billionaire Owner Puts Faith in Ex-Anglo CEO for M&A

  • Chairman Agarwal says Carroll is also focusing on aluminum
  • Former Anglo American CEO joined Indian miner in September

Vedanta Resources Plc is looking to the former head of Anglo American Plc to bring know-how on mergers and acquisitions and the aluminum industry as the Indian producer of oil and metals battles a rout in commodities.

Cynthia Carroll, Anglo American’s chief executive officer from 2007 to 2013, is a “good combination” for Vedanta after joining as an adviser in September, Anil Agarwal, its billionaire chairman, said in an interview in London Thursday.

"She’s very good at aluminum,” Agarwal said. “She’s very good at M&A.”

Vedanta, controlled by Agarwal, has fallen 15 percent this year in London trading as the business struggles with a slump in prices for metals as economic growth slows in China, the biggest consumer. The shares sank almost 8 percent on Oct. 20 after the company denied as “baseless” an Indian report that Carroll would replace its CEO Tom Albanese. He said Wednesday he remains “optimistic” even after Vedanta scrapped its interim dividend.

Lion on Pitch

Albanese "is a lion on the pitch that’s driving the company," Agarwal said. "When two people come and join, they start to speculate," he said of the Indian press reporting.

The former Rio Tinto Group CEO, appointed by Vedanta last year, was heading the world’s second-biggest mining company at the same time that Carroll ran Anglo. He left after Rio wrote down $14 billion of assets following the acquisition of aluminum maker Alcan Inc.

“I have known Cynthia for many, many years and she brings a different way of looking at things to basically the strategic thinking of Vedanta," Albanese said, asked Wednesday on a conference call about speculation following the report by Indian TV station ET Now on its Twitter account. “I’m enjoying what I do but I also enjoy working with Cynthia."

Carroll, also on the boards of BP Plc and Hitachi Ltd., started her career as an exploration geologist before joining Alcan in 1989. She quit Anglo after it suffered cost blowouts and delays at an $8.8 billion iron-ore project in Brazil, with the company’s market value declining by about $14 billion during her tenure.

Vedanta fell 2.6 percent to 474.10 pence by 2:51 p.m. in London on Friday. The merger of Vedanta Ltd. and Cairn India units is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of next year, Agarwal said.

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