LONDON Aug 1 Aviva, one of the largest
investors on the London market, has criticised what it says is
India-focused miner Vedanta's "lack of focus" on social
issues and slow progress which it warned was holding back the
A small but vocal shareholder in FTSE 100 miner Vedanta,
Aviva said a "significant proportion" of a 29 percent
underperformance relative to its peers since the start 2010 was
due to its lack of focus on sustainability issues, including the
environment and human rights.
"We do not believe that the non-executive directors are
providing sufficiently robust independent challenges to the
board," Stephanie Maier, head of corporate responsibility at
Aviva Investors said, in a rare public intervention from a
high-profile institutional investor.
"In particular we are disappointed to find another director
appointed without a credible track record in mining or
sustainability issues," she said.
Vedanta's recent non-executive board appointments include
Deepak Parekh, chairman of Indian mortgage lender HDFC and, last
year, lawyer Geoffrey Green.
Vedanta has frequently faced accusations from investors and
campaigners that it has breached health and environmental rules.
Pressure groups have grabbed headlines with a campaign to oppose
a bauxite mine in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, planned
for an area considered sacred by local people.
Vedanta, which has in the past said it is committed to every
environmental standard, appointed a sustainability chief at the
end of 2010, in answer to some of these accusations.
But it has continued to face criticism and its Tuticorin
smelter, India's largest, was shut for over two months earlier
this year after complaints from residents over emissions.
The miner had no immediate comment on Thursday.
"We are pleased to note that progress continues to be made
within Vedanta... This has, however, been slower than expected
and suggests a lack of appropriate focus by the board," Maier
Vedanta's annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for later