Mumbai–Natural resources major Vedanta Ltd on Friday posted a 17.14 per cent growth in its consolidated net profit for the second quarter ended September at Rs 1,251.13 crore, as compared to the profit of Rs 1,068.95 crore earned in the same quarter a year ago.

Its total income during the quarter in consideration decreased to Rs 18,029.76 crore, from Rs 18,898.27 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal, on account of lower crude oil and copper prices and lower volumes at subsidiaries Zinc India and Cairn India, Vedanta said in a stock exchange filing.

The company said strong operating performance and higher commodity prices helped to improve EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, amortisation and depreciation) at Rs 4,640 crore by 31 per cent over the first quarter of the current fiscal.

Other income was lower by Rs 84 crore than in the same quarter last year due to lower investment corpus on account of the special dividend paid by Hindustan Zinc Ltd.

Vedanta’s net debt reduced by Rs 2,259 crore to Rs 11,961 crore on account of positive free cash flow, the company said.

As on September-end, gross debt increased by Rs 275 crore during the quarter to Rs 66,794 crore.

Of the total debt of Rs 66,794 crore, the rupee/dollar split is approximately 78:22.

The board of directors declared an interim dividend of Rs 1.75 per share for 2016-17.

“We have made significant operational progress this quarter, with an increase in production from Zinc India quarter-on-quarter and good operating performance at our oil and gas business. The Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd business is now fully operational and aluminium is continuing to be ramped up,” Vedanta Chief Executive Tom Albanese said.

The company is focusing on strengthening its balance sheet, including by refinancing debt maturities, he said.

“Simplifying the group structure continues to be a priority, and Cairn India-Vedanta Ltd merger remains on track for completion in the first quarter of 2017, supported by the shareholders of both companies,” he added.

Clearing the last major hurdle in the proposed merger of Vedanta Ltd and its subsidiary energy firm Cairn India, public shareholders of the latter voted last month in favour of the deal in a meeting here.

Vedanta Ltd shareholders approved the scheme on September 9, 2016. Earlier, parent firm Vedanta Resources had announced in London that its shareholders have approved the merger of group companies Vedanta Ltd and Cairn India.

LIC, as the single-largest domestic minority shareholder, owns 9.06 per cent in Cairn India and 3.9 per cent stake in Vedanta.

Vedanta Ltd received approvals in September, 2016 from both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the NSE on the company’s proposal to merge with its hydrocarbons subsidiary Cairn India.

Merging Cairn India with itself would provide Vedanta access to the oil explorer’s cash and help reduce its debt burden. Vedanta took majority control of Cairn India for $8.67 billion in 2011 and holds 59.9 per cent in the latter through its various units.

On the merger question, Vedanta said on Friday that the scheme is now subject to approval of the jurisdictional High Courts and other regulatory authorities, and is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2017.

Vedanta stock closed on Friday at Rs 202.05 a share, up 2.70 points, or 1.35 per cent, over its previous close on the BSE. (IANS)