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"A slowdown is a time to optimise assets"

Vedanta's strong cash reserves (Rs 33,000 crore as of November 2009) along with a focus on optimising value-addition helped convert the downturn into an opportunity.

Anil Agarwal | Print Edition: January 10, 2010

Vedanta's strong cash reserves (Rs 33,000 crore as of November 2009) along with a focus on optimising value-addition helped us convert the downturn into an opportunity. It was important to, one, increase volumes and, two, decrease the cost of production without compromising on quality.

Based on these principles, we gave a strong operating performance that was driven by record production in our aluminium, zinc and iron ore businesses, and succeeded in further cost reduction measures. We knew, despite a tough business environment and a drop in the commodity prices of our products, we need to continue to remain confident about the future, based on our low-cost position and track record of low capital cost project development.

We were confident that this would allow us to continue to deliver profits and growth even at depressed commodity prices. The slowdown was a time to further optimise our assets.

We shut down Madras Aluminium Co., the Nkana copper smelter in Zambia, and partially shut down Bharat Aluminium Co. We started selling surplus power from these companies' plants in power-deficient states in order to maximise returns.

The group is in the process of investing about $20 billion in India. I think these investments are for long-term and will give returns over a period of time. We even went ahead and recruited new people at that time as we were expanding.

- Anil Agarwal, 57, is the Executive Chairman, Vedanta Group

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