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Protests break out as Vedanta delists from LSE

Vidya Ram London | Updated on October 01, 2018 Published on October 01, 2018

A demonstration outside Vedanta’s headquarters in London on Monday, where the company held its AGM

Activists slam ‘regulatory failure’, accuse company of limiting public scrutiny

Protests took place outside the headquarters here of UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Vedanta Resources , as campaigners decried that “regulatory failure’ had enabled the company to delist from the London stock Exchange on Monday. Vedanta had listed in London in 2003.

The delisting was being carried out as “part of a policy to further limit public scrutiny of its operations,” said a group of around 50 protesters. “Vedanta out of London out, out, out,” and “Anil Agarwal (Vedanta Chairman), blood on your hands!” they shouted.

Last week, campaign group Foil Vedanta, which brings together activists in the UK alongside local campaigners in India and Zambia, published a detailed report describing legal judgments and evidence of “key violations” across India, Zambia and beyond.

The report was intended to “inform governments, parliamentarians regulatory bodies and investors” who were concerned around the company’s behaviour, it said. A copy of the report was handed to an FCA representative on Monday.

‘Jumping ship’

“Our report and today’s protests send a clear message that London listing authorities must take serious note of regulatory failures that have been recurring with a disproportionate number of controversial mining companies like Vedanta,” said Samarendra Das of Foil Vedanta and author of the report.

“Instead of taking action following the Tuticorin (Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu) massacre, they are allowing them to jump ship and run away from London to avoid further scrutiny.”

“We are aware that Vedanta’s LSE delisting takes effect from today. We are not aware of any impact that the delisting will have on the litigation in which we represent over 1,800 Zambian villagers in their claims against Vedanta and its subsidiary, KCM, for losses they say they have suffered as a result pollution from the Nchanga copper mine,’ said Oliver Holland, a solicitor at Leigh Day, which is representing the villagers.

“As far as we and our clients are concerned, the case is continuing and the next hearing on jurisdiction is listed to be heard by the Supreme Court on January 15 and 16, 2019.”

As expected, Vedanta Resources announced on Monday that the listing of the company’s shares on the official list of the UK Listings Authority, and trading of all company shares on the London Stock Exchange’s main market, had been cancelled with effect from 8 am today.

Buyout by trust

In September, Volcan Investment Ltd, the holding company wholly owned by Agarwal’s discretionary trust, said its cash offer for the shares it didn’t already own in Vedanta had become unconditional after minority investors agreed to sell their shares. In July it announced a plan to acquire the remaining 33.47 per cent of Vedanta Resources, valuing the company at £2.325 billion ($3.03 billion). The all-cash offer of £8.25 a share marked a 28 per cent premium on the closing price of Vedanta Resources before the offer was announced.

Agarwal described the move to take the company private as a “natural progression”. While a London listing had served the company “extremely well” since 2003, it was no longer necessary for the company to achieve its strategic objectives, he added.

In recent months, criticism of Vedanta has grown following the killing of protesters in police firing in Thoothukudi in May.

The opposition Labour Party called for Vedanta Resources to be delisted from the LSE to “remove its cloak of respectability.”

Published on October 01, 2018
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