India's Vedanta shares slump after Anglo American stake purchase

A man walks past the logo of Vedanta outside its headquarters in Mumbai, India January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

(Reuters) - Shares of Indian miner Vedanta Ltd closed at their lowest in nearly 2-1/2 years on Friday, hit by concerns over an investment in African miner Anglo American Plc .

Vedanta said on Thursday its foreign subsidiary Cairn India Holdings Ltd had paid $200 million to buy a stake in Anglo American from its parent Volcan Investments Ltd as part of its "cash management activities".

Shares of Vedanta closed 17.8 percent lower at 162.15 rupees, its lowest since September 2016. About 98.6 million shares - nearly 10 times the 30-day average - changed hands, making it the most heavily traded stock on the National Stock Exchange.

Analysts said they were skeptical of the merits of the investment and questioned the potential returns, which depend on Anglo American’s stock price.

“While there is some downside protection for Vedanta in specific scenarios (not clarified by the management), returns are not guaranteed,” Morgan Stanley said.

In September last year, Vedanta Resources’ Chairman Anil Agarwal’s decision to take the London-listed miner private was seen by some as a prelude to a potentially broader deal with bigger miner Anglo American.

Kotak’s analysts in a note said that while Vedanta stated the investment is to earn higher returns, they fail to see merit in the arrangement.

Industrial metals prices are set for their biggest annual fall in years after signs of slowing growth in China’s commodities-hungry economy and a U.S.-China trade war, potentially affecting global mining firms.

Vedanta on Thursday reported a 21.1 percent decline in third-quarter profit that still beat estimates. The stock slumped as much as 19.86 percent on Friday, it’s biggest intraday fall since October 2008.

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Sudarshan Varadhan and Shreejay Sinha; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle