Ravages Through India

Vedanta Resources plc

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Lifting the Veil of Silence

Northern Investors, apparently led by a number of UK and US hedge funds, responded with enthusiasm to the launch of Vedanta Resources plc on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) just before Xmas 2003. Behind the scenes, the sordid history of Sterlite Industries - the thirty year old family business of Anil Agarwal - had come under some scrutiny during the previous months. However, the "investigations" were clearly skimped, and some aspects of Sterlite's murky past undoubtedly concealed from the public. An LSE source told the London Times on December 10, 2003 that Vedanta's listing had gone through "only after a quiet word in many ears."

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Vedanta is now celebrating more than eighteen months trading in "the City." Although its share price slid dramatically downwards in the first half of this period, of late it has been riding fairly high. There are one or two industry commentators (such as the Financial Times' ex-mining editor, Ken Gooding) who are willing to question the company's boardroom strategy. This was the case when both Vedanta's UK-born chair, Michael Fowle and Jean Pierre Rodier, former head of French aluminium giant, Pechiney, and chair of Vedanta's Health, Safety and Environment committee, suddenly resigned in April this year.

Nonetheless, despite Agarwal now ruling Vedanta as executive chairman, in flat contravention of UK corporate good governance rules, and despite two ringing condemnations of the company's operations made by India's Supreme Court during the past twelve months, the UK press remains culpably silent about what its newest multinational mining company is getting up to. Nor - with a few notable exceptions - have Indian journalists done much better.

Why this report?

We are a large group of concerned organizations and individuals, including minority shareholders, community representatives, workers, environmental, human rights and worker's rights campaigners, who are determined that this veil of silence should be lifted.

We have no financial interest in Vedanta itself and any company which might be in competition with Vedanta.

Our prime concern is that the facts be known and that the company's continued violation of law and human rights be redressed.

Our hope and expectation is that those who brought this dubious company to the market - such as the J P Morgan investment bank, which recently announced an "ethical policy," and ABNAmro which purports to have one already in place - will revise their assessment of Vedanta as a company with which conscientious investors can continue to do business.

We also want to bring attention to the plight of the communities that have been adversely affected by Vedanta's operation in order to rectify the wrongs that have been committed.

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