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Vedanta's Troubles Deepen as Foxconn Withdraws from $19.5B Semiconductor Venture

Navigating Debt Crisis, Vedanta's Strategies for Financial Recovery

11 July 2023


Kunal Tyagi

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  • Vedanta, led by Anil Agarwal, faces challenges with the withdrawal of Foxconn from a $19.5 billion semiconductor joint venture.

  • The conglomerate has been burdened by mounting debt, leading to credit rating downgrades and concerns about debt defaults.

  • Vedanta has been involved in disputes, including the closure of a copper smelter and opposition to bauxite mining while resolving the long-standing dispute over its Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia.

Vedanta, the Indian conglomerate led by Chairman Anil Agarwal, has encountered another business challenge as Taiwan's Foxconn decided to withdraw from a $19.5 billion semiconductor joint venture. This development adds to the recent woes faced by Vedanta, including debt concerns and various disputes. In this blog, we delve into the background of Vedanta, its recent challenges, and the implications of Foxconn's withdrawal.

The Humble Beginnings of Vedanta:

Vedanta traces its origins back to Anil Agarwal's start as a scrap-metal dealer in Mumbai. Over the years, Agarwal expanded his business empire across India, as well as in countries like Zambia, Namibia, Ireland, and South Africa. He later ventured into the oil and gas sector, establishing London-based Vedanta Resources, which controls Vedanta Ltd., the company's India unit. Agarwal's entrepreneurial journey exemplifies his transformation from a humble scrap-metal dealer to a prominent business figure.

Burdened by Debt:

One of Vedanta's major challenges has been its mounting debt. Credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded the company's rating, while concerns about debt defaults surfaced. However, Anil Agarwal has maintained that there have been no defaults by the group. As of April, Vedanta's gross debt stood at $6.8 billion, although the company had made significant progress in reducing its debt burden by fulfilling 75% of its debt reduction commitment.

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Foxconn Joint Venture: Incentives and Withdrawal:

Vedanta's partnership with Foxconn aimed to establish a semiconductor manufacturing joint venture, with the conglomerate seeking incentives from the Indian government and various states. However, Foxconn recently decided to withdraw from the venture. The delay in incentive approvals by the Indian government played a crucial role in Foxconn's decision. Reuters had previously reported that the joint venture was progressing slowly due to conflicts over licensing technology and the desired involvement of European chipmaker STMicroelectronics.

Other Disputes and Environmental Concerns:

Vedanta's operations have been marred by disputes and environmental controversies. The closure of Vedanta's copper smelter in Tamil Nadu following a fatal incident involving environmental protesters in 2018 has been a significant point of contention. Vedanta has also faced opposition from activists and locals regarding its bauxite mining plans in Odisha state, where the indigenous tribal community considers the Niyamgiri hills sacred. Similarly, the long-standing dispute over Vedanta's Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia seems to be nearing resolution.

Vedanta's Debt Repayment Strategies:

To address its debt crisis, Vedanta Resources is relying on brand monetization, refinancing, and the transfer of general reserves to retained earnings. The company aims to meet its repayment timelines amid the significant debt obligations it faces, including a $1 billion bond due in January 2024. Despite the challenges, Vedanta has been proactive in implementing strategies to alleviate its financial burden.

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