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'When all hope was lost': Billionaire Anil Agarwal reflects on 'toughest' 10 years of his life

Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal (MINT_PRINT)Premium
Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal (MINT_PRINT)

  • From his first firm, 'Shamsher Sterling Cable Company' to becoming the father of a multinational mining company, Anil Agarwal did not have it the easy way.  Agarwal talks about the beginning of his great ambition, his toughest years of life, his struggles with depression, and the time when his fate finally changed forever.

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The life of an entrepreneur can be filled with great difficulty, especially during the time of setting up a new business. These great business minds not only face financial crises but also an intellectual battle. The key is to not give up! To achieve success, one must first learn to fail, the saying goes right for billionaire Anil Agarwal.

From his first firm, 'Shamsher Sterling Cable Company' to becoming the father of a multinational mining company, Anil Agarwal did not have it the easy way. A decade of struggle and hardship led Agarwal to the success he holds currently. Agarwal talks about the beginning of his great ambition, his toughest years of life, his struggles with depression, and the time when his fate finally changed forever.

Through his Twitter account, billionaire Anil Agarwal reflects on the 'toughest' 10 years of his life.

He said, "I bought my first company with great ambition, but the next 10 years were the toughest years of my life."

"In 1976, I acquired Shamsher Sterling Cable Company but I had no money to pay the salary of my employees or buy the raw materials needed. I spent my days visiting banks to clear my payments, and my nights reviving the closed cable plant," Agarwal says.

To make ends meet, Agarwal said he started 9 businesses in various fields: magnetic wires, different cables, aluminum rods, multiplexes with Warner Brothers - "but all of them failed, one after the other. Still, I never gave up."

He adds, "As much as I did not want to admit it, the stress of the financial crisis pulled me to my lowest. For three years, I slipped into depression and no one knew about it. I was determined to get my life back on track so I exercised and meditated as much as I could…"

Agarwal did not shy away from admitting that he even turned to prayers in his testing times. He said, "When all hope was lost, I did what every individual does in testing times - I prayed. From Mumbadevi to Siddhivinayak to Haji Ali to Mahim Church. To balance out the stress, I would go watch the cinema which gave me an escape from reality.."

To escape from the reality, Agarwal mentioned he went to the premiere of Sholay at Minerva Talkies and watched my favourite stars walk the red carpet - Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Dharmendra and more. Adding he said, "I could not get in the hall but it was enough for me to stand outside."

However, today, things are different for Agarwal. He says, "In order to succeed, you must first learn to fail.."

"Today, when I look back, I realise that I was put through those testing times by the cosmos so I could be better prepared to handle the biggest achievement of my life - Vedanta. In order to succeed, you must first learn to fail..," Agarwal says.

Agarwal further added, "Those ten years passed by and little did I know that my fate was about to change forever. In 1986, telephone cables were allowed, for the first time, to be manufactured by the private sector. That changed everything…"

"To be continued," Agarwal lastly concluded.

Agarwal is the founder and chairman of Vedanta Resources Limited and controls the business through a holding company, Volcan Investments with a 100% stake in the business. Vedanta Resources is a globally diversified natural resources company that extracts and processes minerals, oil, and gas, engages more than 65,000 employees and contractors, primarily in India, Africa, Ireland, and Australia.

Vedanta Resources products are sold worldwide and are currently headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Vedanta Resources also is the holding company for Vedanta Limited and Konkola Copper Mines, which in turn have multiple subsidiaries.

Born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, Agarwal studied at Miller High School in the same city, and instead of going to a university, he joined his father, Dwarka Prasad Agarwal's business which was into making aluminum conductors.

Agarwal acquired his first company with a bank loan, Shamsher Sterling Corporation which was meant for manufacturing enameled copper, among other products. He managed Shamsher Sterling and his father's business for the next 10 years. Later, in 1986, he created Sterlite Industries to set up a factory to manufacture jelly-filled cables - which also became the first private company to set up a copper smelter and refinery in India.

To expand his footprint in the international market, Agarwal incorporated Vedanta Resources Plc in 2003 in London - which also became the first Indian firm to be listed on London Stock Exchange in the same year on December 10.

In the first six months of FY22, Vedanta Resources' consolidated Revenue increased by 61% to $ 7,870 million (H1 FY2021: $ 4,875 million). Profit after tax from continuing operation stands at $ 1,093 million (H1 FY2021: $ 78 million) primarily driven by higher operating profit, partially offset by higher net interest cost. Also, in H1 FY2022, the company's gross debt decreased to US$ 15.5 billion (FY2021 $ 16.4 billion), driven by repayment of borrowing at Vedanta Limited, BALCO, temporary borrowing at Zinc India.

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