Anil Agarwal: The Journey of the “Metal King”


Anil Agarwal, known as the “Metal King,” is an Indian billionaire businessman who founded and chairs Vedanta Resources Limited. He controls Vedanta Resources through Volcan Investments, holding a 100% stake in the business. The Agarwal family has a net worth of $4 billion.

Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal

Birth and Family

Born: Patna, Bihar, India
Citizenship: Indian & British
Occupation: Chairman of Vedanta Resources
Known for: The Vedanta Foundation, Sterlite Industries
Spouse: Kiran Agarwal
Children: 2 – Agnivesh (son) and Priya (daughter)

Early Life

Anil “Metal King” Agarwal was born and raised in a Marwadi family in Patna, Bihar, India. His father, Dwarka Prasad Agarwal, had a small aluminum conductor business. He attended Miller High School in Patna. Instead of going to university, he decided to join his father’s business, focusing on making aluminum conductors. At the age of 19, “Metal King” left Patna for Mumbai (formerly Bombay) to explore career opportunities.


In the mid-1970s, he started trading in scrap metal, collecting it from cable companies in other states and selling it in Mumbai. In 1976, Anil “Metal King” Agarwal acquired Shamsher Sterling Corporation, a manufacturer of enameled copper, among other products, with a bank loan. He managed both businesses for the next ten years.

In 1986, he established a factory to manufacture jelly-filled cables, creating Sterlite Industries. He soon realized that the profitability of his business was volatile, fluctuating with the prices of his raw materials: copper and aluminum. To gain control over his input costs, he decided to start manufacturing the metals rather than buying them.

Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal

In 1993, Sterlite Industries became the first private sector company in India to set up a copper smelter and refinery. In 1995, Sterlite Industries acquired Madras Aluminum, a ‘sick’ company that had been shut down for four years and was held by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). The next step in the backward integration process was natural: mining.

His first significant opportunity came when the government announced a disinvestment program. In 2001, he acquired a 51% stake in Bharat Aluminum Company (BALCO) for INR 551.50 crore, a public sector undertaking. In the following year, he acquired a majority stake of nearly 65% in state-run Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL). Both companies were considered sluggish and inefficient mining firms.

To access international capital markets, Anil Agarwal and his team incorporated Vedanta Resources Plc in 2003 in London. During its listing, Vedanta Resources Plc became the first Indian firm to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. On December 10, 2003, Vedanta Resources became the parent company of the group through a process of internal restructuring of group companies and their shareholding.

Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal and Kiran Agrawal

In 2004, Vedanta Resources Plc announced a global bond offering and acquired Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia, Africa. In 2007, Vedanta Resources acquired a controlling stake in Sesa Goa Limited, India’s largest producer-exporter of iron ore. In 2010, the company acquired South African miner Anglo American’s portfolio of zinc assets in Namibia, Ireland, and South Africa. The next year, Vedanta Resources acquired a controlling stake in Cairn India, India’s largest private sector oil-producing firm. The merger of Sesa Goa and Sterlite Industries was announced in 2012 as part of the Vedanta Group’s consolidation.

Vedanta Resources, headquartered in London, is a globally diversified natural resources conglomerate with interests in zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, aluminum, power generation, and oil and gas. Although Agarwal lives in London, the majority of the company’s assets are in India.

In October 2017, it was announced that Agrawal’s Volcan Holdings Plc had taken a 19% stake in mining company Anglo American, making him the biggest shareholder of the company.

Anil Agarwal
Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Agarwal

According to The Sunday Times Rich List in 2020, his net worth was estimated at £8.5 billion. According to Forbes, Vedanta and Foxconn would jointly invest about $20 billion in 2022 to build semiconductor and display plants in the Indian state of Gujarat, with Vedanta having a 60% stake in the venture.

Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal with Grand Daughter

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The journey of Anil “Metal King” Agarwal is an inspiring tale of how hard work, determination, and entrepreneurship can lead to success. He played a crucial role in bringing global recognition to the Indian industry and is now known as the “Metal King.” His success serves as a great example that with dedication and perseverance, one can achieve any feat, whether they are based abroad or in India.

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