Global firms need patience to invest in India: Anil Agarwal

Vedanta group chairman Anil Agarwal today said the global business community needs to have patience while investing in India because the country is going through a transitional phase.

"I always say that if you (global firms) work in India, you have to have patience. We are going through a transition period, we have grown in India in a public sector environment," he said at the India Today Conclave here.

Agarwal was asked about Vedanta's 8.67 billion acquisition of oil producer Cairn India from Cairn Energy, which was announced in August 2010 and completed in December 2011.

Agarwal said everyone talks about how long the deal took and no one looks at the "magnitude of the transaction that has taken place," the size of the funds invested in India.

"It was a difficult task. We had persuaded, Cairn India had persuaded, British Prime Minister had persuaded (for completion of the deal)," he said, adding that India needs more than 20 companies like Cairn India to prosper.

He reiterated his position that the government needs to reform operations of public sector companies and allow market forces to prevail.

"We have 300 companies (PSUs)...Why don't we hand over 51 per cent to the market? Let it be market-driven. ONGC will be Exxon, SAIL will be Vale...Let the market decide who should be in the board, who should be the CEO. The best CEO will come," he said.

The Vedanta chairman has often called for a 51 per cent stake in PSUs to be auctioned in the open market to help make the companies more efficient.

No buyer should get more than 10 per cent, Agarwal had said, advocating adoption of the equity structure of companies such as Larsen and Toubro, which does not have a majority stakeholder.

He said a professional CEO and board would help PSUs to become world class and 10 times bigger as they would adopt international practices and compete with global peers.

Agarwal called for investments in exploration of oil and gas and coal, saying they are found in abundance in India.

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