Vedanta shareholders back London delisting amid protest

LONDON (Reuters) - Shareholders in Vedanta Resources, the UK arm of Indian miner Vedanta, on Monday backed the delisting of the company from London, where the miner has faced protests and legal action.

FILE PHOTO: Protesters hold plaques outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Barbara Lewis/File Photo

Volcan Investments, the family trust of Vedanta chairman and founder Anil Agarwal, announced a roughly $1 billion buyout offer for Vedanta Resources in July.

On Monday, the cancellation of the listing was confirmed at a final London shareholders’ meeting.

Outside the meeting in central London, campaign group Foil Vedanta and representatives of the Tamil Nadu community took part in protests, chanting “looter polluter,” banging drums and holding banners.

India’s environment court has said an independent committee will decide on whether to allow Vedanta to reopen a copper smelter, which was shut by the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on environmental grounds.

Tamil Nadu ordered the permanent closure of the plant and disconnected its power supply in May following protests that turned violent and culminated in the police opening fire on protesters, killing 13 of them.

In London, Vedanta is involved in ongoing appeal proceedings after the London Court of Appeal last year awarded nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers the right to sue Vedanta Resources in the English courts over alleged pollution in Zambia.

Foil Vedanta handed a report to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in London itemizing the alleged pollution and human rights abuses it says Vedanta has committed.

Vedanta has denied it is responsible for pollution or human rights abuses. It declined to comment on the Foil Vedanta report.

The FCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vedanta has said buying out the London listing, which is dwarfed by Vedanta’s Indian operations, would simplify the company’s structure and that the Indian market was now deep enough to raise capital.

It has also said it sees huge potential in its Indian heartland and on Monday said it was investing $4.1 billion to boost oil output in the desert state of Rajasthan to more than 400,000 barrels per day.

Reporting by Barbara Lewis in London and Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter