India Finance Coal
Adani axes projects and spending in wake of Hindenburg rout
Apr 29, 2023
Major fossil-fuel projects have a question mark hanging over them since Adani's Hindenburg-driven credit crunch.

Three months on from the bombshell Hindenburg report, the Adani Group’s fortunes are yet to turn. The Hindenburg allegations have created a lasting political scandal in India. Meanwhile, on the business side of things, the group faces a persistent debt crunch. Continuing media scrutiny has resulted in a flow of damaging revelations about the group’s businesses. Despite a halting recovery in the stock markets, the group's net loss since the Hindenburg report is still over US $100 billion. In part 2 of our analysis, AdaniWatch examines the impacts of the report on Adani’s businesses, including some that have axed major new fossil-fuel projects.

In the three months since the release of the bombshell Hindenburg report that called the Adani Group the ‘largest con in corporate history’, revelations have continued to pour forth regarding its alleged malpractices.

Three months on from the release of the Hindenburg report, and the fallout for the Adani Group continues.

On 25 April 2023, Bloomberg reported that the Adani Group has been quietly distancing itself from Gautam Adani’s older brother, Vinod. Vinod Adani has been described as inhabiting the centre of a complex web of offshore companies registered in tax havens around the world. These offshore entities have allegedly been used for a range of dubious purposes, including artificially inflating the stock prices of Adani companies that are publicly listed. Bloomberg reported that Vinod Adani had, in late February, stepped down as director of three Adani Group companies that are connected to the Carmichael coal mine in Australia.

In its response to the Hindenburg report, the Adani Group had previously asserted that Vinod was not a ‘related party’ to the group, and that he was not responsible for investments attributable to companies linked to him. However, subsequent reporting had found that Vinod Adani in fact works out of an Adani-owned office and owns or is a director of multiple entities in the Adani Group. The Adani Group itself told Indian stock markets in March that Vinod Adani is a part of the ‘promoter group’ (in this case, the founders and majority owners of the companies concerned) of the conglomerate.

Vinod Adani, the older brother of group founder Gautam, who has allegedly operated at the centre of a web of offshore shell-company tax-haven investors in the Adani Group accused of artificially inflating the share prices of group companies.

An earlier investigation by Indian news website Scroll.in alleged that the Adani Group effectively ‘rigged’ a government auction for the right to mine a coal block in eastern Maharashtra. The only other bidder in the auction, the report said, was an obscure firm named Cavill Mining, which can be linked back to the Adani Group, making it a case of the group bidding against itself. Cavill Mining is a subsidiary of Adicorp Enterprises, a company named by Hindenburg Research as an entity used by the Adani Group to funnel funds between Adani companies to avoid mandatory related-party disclosures. The founder of Adicorp and Cavill is a personal friend of Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, the report added.

(Story continues below)

More stories See all
Experts slam impacts of Adani’s pumped-hydro projects in Western Ghats
Outrage as Modi government revisits quashed coal-mine approval at Gare Pelma II
Chaotic scenes as authorities try to strong-arm village approval for Adani coal-mine expansion
The harsh life at the coal face of Adani’s Talabira mine
‘We are from Dharavi’ has become a battle cry

The Economic Times reported that Madhabi Puri Buch, chairperson of India’s market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), made a detailed presentation to a committee established by the Supreme Court on 2 April for the purpose of investigating some of the Hindenburg allegations regarding the way Adani companies are run. Buch’s presentation reportedly covered disclosures on related-party transactions by both listed and privately-held Adani Group companies, and other issues pertaining to the group such as offshore companies, foreign portfolio investor holdings, and minimum stock-market floats.

Reuters reported that SEBI is investigating possible violation of rules pertaining to related-party transactions in the Adani Group’s dealings with at least three offshore entities that have links to Gautam Adani’s brother Vinod. The three entities are Mauritius based Krunal Trade and Investments Ltd, Gardenia Trade and Investments Ltd, and Dubai-based Electrogen Infra, the report said.

A debt crisis and axed projects

The Adani Group’s debt rose 21% in the financial year prior to the release of the Hindenburg report, according to The Times of India. Similarly, the Business Standard reported that the Adani Group’s gross debt stood at Rs 2.27 trillion (about US $27.7 billion) at the end of March. Following the release of the Hindenburg report, however, the group’s ability to borrow money was hit severely, with its bonds crashing and multiple agencies downgrading its credit rating.

With this in mind, the Business Standard reported that in a presentation to lenders, the group committed not to raise any further debt until it lowers its current debt burden. In the current financial year, the group has repaid debt worth US $2.8 billion, the report said, adding that Adani Ports and SEZ will buy back bonds worth up to US $300 million using its own cash in the ongoing financial year. The first such buy back reportedly commenced on 24 April, when the group said in a filing to the stock exchange that it had started the process to buy back US dollar bonds worth $130 million.

A credit squeeze for Adani since the February stock-market rout has resulted in the cancellation of several major projects.

Facing this cash crunch, the Adani Group has seen several planned projects put on hold. In the immediate aftermath of the Hindenburg report, in early February, France’s Total Energies said it was holding back on a 25% investment in Adani’s planned $50 billion ‘green hydrogen’ projects. Subsequently, the Adani Group told Indian banks that it will ‘pause some of its proposed investments, especially those without funding commitments’, Livemint reported.

The group’s solar-module manufacturing business, which was due to receive a part of the proceeds of the group’s cancelled $2.5-billion January share issue, is another casualty.

The group also saw a government contract dumped in the Hindenburg aftermath. The state of Uttar Pradesh cancelled a contract it had awarded to the Adani group to supply ‘smart’ electricity meters to the state’s electricity-distribution company in early February citing ‘unavoidable reasons’.

In March, the Adani Group was reported to have put on hold its plans for a $4.2 billion coal-to-PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plant in Gujarat. In emails sent to vendors and suppliers the group called for them to ‘suspend all activities of the scope of the work and performance of all obligations… till further notice’. This followed an ‘unforeseen scenario’ according to the emails.

A limping recovery in the stock markets

Reuters reported that ‘in a series of roadshows from Hong Kong to New York’ the Adani Group has recently ‘trumpet[ed] stable ties to global banks in [a] bid to ease investor worries’.

The rout in the share prices of the Adani Group’s listed companies was arrested in early March, after a US-based, Australia-listed investment firm named GQG Partners invested $1.87 billion in four Adani Group companies. This raised investor confidence but the recovery has been slow. Stocks are still nowhere near pre-Hindenburg levels.

By our calculations, the value of Adani Group’s ten listed companies has fallen 46.3% since the release of the Hindenburg report on 24 January, wiping out 9.63 trillion rupees or US $117.5 billion in value (see chart below for details). This is a partial recovery, up from losses of $146 billion on 24 February, a month after the report’s release.

Valued at US $235 billion prior to the report’s release, the Adani Group’s listed entities now are worth about US $117 billion. Gautam Adani’s personal net worth stands at $59.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, on which he is currently ranked 21st richest in the world. Prior to the report’s release, he was the world’s third richest man. His personal loss in net worth since the release of the Hindenburg report is about $61 billion.

 

Company

Share Price on 23 January (Rs)

Share Price on 25 April (Rs)

Percentage Fall Since 23 January

Adani Enterprises

Adani Power

Adani Transmission

Adani Green Energy

Adani Ports and SEZ

Adani Wilmar

Adani Total Gas

Ambuja Cements

ACC

NDTV

3434.50

273.25

2782.35

1930.85

769.05

546.20

3892.50

500.90

2322.50

284.25

1845.45

205.75

1012.50

930.30

671.40

402.85

935.10

382.60

1734.90

183.00

46.26

24.70

63.61

51.82

12.70

26.25

75.98

23.62

25.30

35.62

Share prices as on close of trade on 25 April on the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange)

 

Company

Market Capitalization on 23 January (Rs)

Market Capitalization on 25 April (Rs)

Fall in Market Capitalization Since 23 January (Rs)

Adani Enterprises

Adani Power

Adani Transmission

Adani Green Energy

Adani Ports and SEZ

Adani Wilmar

Adani Total Gas

Ambuja Cements

ACC

NDTV

3.91 trillion

1.05 trillion

3.10 trillion

3.06 trillion

1.66 trillion

710 billion

4.28 trillion

995 billion

436 billion

18.3 billion

2.10 trillion

794 billion

1.13 trillion

1.47 trillion

1.45 trillion

524 billion

1.03 trillion

760 billion

326 billion

11.8 billion

1.81 trillion

260 billion

1.97 trillion

1.59 trillion

211 billion

186 billion

3.25 trillion

235 billion

110 billion

6.53 billion

TOTAL

19.2 trillion

9.60 trillion

9.63 trillion