Adani Group Crisis Worsens as Stocks Plummet and Parliament Adjourns
The Adani Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, is facing a major crisis as the controversy surrounding the company deepens. The group, which was founded by Gautam Adani, operates in various sectors including ports, power, and energy. However, the company has been under fire since January when US short seller Hindenburg Research accused it of fraud and stock market manipulation. Adani has vehemently denied the allegations, calling them “baseless” and “malicious”, and claiming that the fundamentals of its business remain “strong”.
However, the company has failed to effectively address the questions raised by the report, which has had a significant impact on its stock prices. On Friday, shares of Adani Enterprises, the company’s flagship firm, fell by as much as 35% before recovering most of those losses to close down 2%. The cumulative loss since the allegations first surfaced is now close to 55%.
Due to the rapid decline in stock prices, trading in five other Adani firms listed on Indian stock exchanges was also halted. These included Adani Total Gas and Adani Green Energy, ventures in which France’s TotalEnergies has invested. TotalEnergies described its $3 billion exposure to Adani as “limited” and welcomed the company’s intention to appoint one of the Big Four accounting firms to conduct a “general audit”.
Moody’s also sounded the alarm about the decline in Adani stocks, stating that it was likely to reduce the company’s ability to raise capital. Another ratings agency, S&P, also cut the outlook for its ratings on two Adani companies – Adani Ports and Adani Electricity – to negative, citing the risk of higher funding costs or reduced access to capital. Adani Ports, India’s largest private port operator, closed up 5.6% on Friday.
S&P Dow Jones, which compiles market benchmarks for investors, also announced that it would remove Adani Enterprises from its sustainability indexes next week, following an analysis “triggered by allegations of stock manipulation and accounting fraud.”
The Adani Group has faced criticism from opposition lawmakers in India, who have called for a probe into the Hindenburg report. The uproar reached a new level on Wednesday when parliament was adjourned amid chaotic scenes as lawmakers demanded an emergency debate on the Adani crisis. The main opposition party, Congress, tweeted, “Action is being taken against Adani all over the world, but PM Modi is quiet. When will our govt take action?”
India’s federal government has reportedly started a “preliminary review” of the Adani Group’s financial statements and other regulatory submissions, according to two senior government officials. The Reserve Bank of India addressed the growing concern, stating that the banking sector remains “resilient and stable” and that it continues to monitor the stability of the Indian banking sector.
Adani’s personal fortune has also taken a significant hit due to the stock market turmoil. Last week, he had a net worth of $120 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in the world. However, his net worth has now fallen to just over $61 billion and he now ranks 21st on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
On Wednesday, Adani Enterprises abruptly abandoned a $2.5 billion deal to sell new shares, just 24 hours after it was sealed. Gautam Adani addressed the situation in a recorded video message on Thursday, stating that the share issue was pulled to protect investors from losses. However, his message did little to stem the stock market meltdown that has wiped more than $100 billion off the combined market value of his companies.
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