Vedanta Ltd on Thursday said its board would meet on March 28 to consider and approve the fifth interim dividend on equity shares, if any, for financial year 2022-23.The move is yet another indication of the predicament that promoter Anil Agarwal finds himself in as he attempts to deleverage his commodities business at a time when interest rates are on the rise.
Agarwal is banking on dividend payouts to repay loans after the Indian government opposed his plan to sell the group’s international zinc operations to Hindustan Zinc for close to $3 billion. While companies are known to announce one or at best two interim dividends and one final dividend, Agarwal seems to be making a habit of paying interim dividends.
Vedanta had earlier announced an interim dividend of Rs 12.50 per share in February (ex-date), Rs 17.50 in November, Rs 19.50 in July, and Rs 31.50 in April. Investors in Agarwal’s companies are anxious about the high level of borrowings. Vedanta Resources has pared its net debt by $2 billion this year, and said in a regulatory filing in February, that it would continue to pay off loans worth $7.7 billion over the next two years. Meanwhile, the stock price of Vedanta Ltd fell 4.87% to Rs 271.35 apiece on Thursday on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on the back of media reports that the promoters were looking to sell a stake in the company.
Bloomberg recently reported that Vedanta Resources, which owns about 70% of Vedanta, has been in talks with at least three banks for a loan of as much as $1 billion. Earlier this month, the board of Hindustan Zinc, part of the Vedanta group promoted by Agarwal, approved its fourth interim dividend for FY23 at Rs 26 per share, which will see an outflow of nearly Rs 11,000 crore from the company. Agarwal’s Vedanta owns about 65% of Hindustan Zinc, while the Indian government has a stake of close to 30%.