The Adani Affair: A Call For Greater Transparency and Accountability in Indian Corporates
The Adani Group, a conglomerate owned by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, has come under fire after allegations of stock manipulation and money laundering were made by U.S. short-selling firm Hindenburg Research in a January 24 report. In the days since, the group’s market value has dropped by more than $90 billion, with the total now standing at $108 billion. This has led to a significant drop in Adani’s personal fortune, from being Asia’s richest man to occupying the 21st spot on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
The allegations made by Hindenburg are serious, and Adani Group has issued a 400-page rebuttal. However, the allegations have sent Indian markets into a tizzy, with the group of companies losing over $110 billion in value and a planned stock offering being scuppered.
Analysis of the Adani Group reveals a lack of transparency and accountability. Data shows that almost all listed companies that are part of the group are seriously overleveraged and overvalued, with their relationship between price and earnings being more than 800 times higher than the industry average. In addition, the promoter ownership is just under permissible limits.
The impact on the Adani Group has been profound, with the market value of publicly traded companies falling by about half. In response, the Adani Group promoters have decided to prepay loans worth $1.11 billion ahead of their scheduled maturity in September 2024.
The Adani affair highlights the need for greater transparency and accountability within the Indian corporate world. It also raises questions over the influence Gautam Adani wields due to his close ties to the Modi government. As Aswath Damodaran, who teaches corporate finance and valuation at New York University said, “I still think the company is priced too high, given its fundamentals and before factoring the damage that might have [been] done to the company’s reputation and long term value, by this short selling episode.” With the consequences of this affair still to be seen, the Adani affair certainly has far-reaching implications for India.
0. “Gautam Adani will be playing defense for a while after mauling by short seller” CNN, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/10/business/india-adani-hindenburg-report-impact-intl-hnk/index.html
1. “Adani Scam Tests the Credibility of India's Institutions” The Diplomat, 7 Feb. 2023, https://thediplomat.com/2023/02/adani-scam-tests-the-credibility-of-indias-institutions
2. “D Raja writes on Adani-Hindenburg: It is time to fix accountability” The Indian Express, 11 Feb. 2023, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/d-raja-writes-on-adani-hindenburg-time-to-fix-accountability-8439095/
3. “Hindenburg Research asks Adani Group about corruption” The FCPA Blog, 6 Feb. 2023, https://fcpablog.com/2023/02/06/hindenburg-research-asks-adani-group-about-corruption/
4. “Adani scrambles to reassure creditors as crisis enters third week” kuna noticias y kuna radio, 6 Feb. 2023, https://kesq.com/money/cnn-business-consumer/2023/02/06/adani-scrambles-to-reassure-creditors-as-market-rout-enters-third-week
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