Skip to content

Adani Labels Fight With US Short Seller as Attack on India

Adani Labels Fight With US Short Seller as Attack on India

(Bloomberg) — The Adani Group has cast its brawl with a US short seller as an attack on India and the issue could overshadow parliament’s budget session with opposition lawmakers highlighting the ties between Asia’s richest man and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Adani Tries to Calm Investors With 413-Page Hindenburg Rebuttal

Russia Can’t Replace the Energy Market Putin Broke

Fed Set to Shrink Rate Hikes Again as Inflation Slows

Bed Bath & Beyond Customers Confront Empty Shelves Ahead of Looming Bankruptcy

Ukraine Latest: Russian Missile Hit on Kharkiv Building Reported

“The Adani Group is no ordinary conglomerate: It’s closely identified with Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he was chief minister,” of Gujarat, said Jairam Ramesh, general secretary of the opposition Congress Party days after Hindenburg Research alleged stock manipulation and fraudulent accounting by the conglomerate.

Parliament will convene this week for its crucial budget session, where the government will Wednesday unveil its last full-year budget before Modi seeks a third term in office in elections due in less than 15 months.

“We will certainly raise this in parliament. In which form and when that we will decide later. It’s a serious issue,” Sougata Ray, lawmaker from the opposition All India Trinamool Congress, said in a telephone interview. At least two other opposition parties will also raise the matter.

The government has so far remained silent on the matter. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Billionaire Gautam Adani, widely perceived as being close to Modi, has portrayed Hindenburg Research’s charges as an attack against his home country, in a bid to garner support from nationalists. The tycoon has often aligned his businesses with Modi’s development goals, building capital-intensive infrastructure such as ports and airports.

“This is not merely an unwarranted attack on any specific company but a calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and the growth story and ambition of India,” Adani said in its 413-page response Sunday.

Story continues

It wasn’t the first time that the group was couching the dispute in nationalistic terms. Soon after the report was made public Jan. 24, Adani Group chief financial officer, Jugeshinder Singh released a video statement rebutting the charges with a massive Indian flag fluttering in the background.

Hindenburg said the response failed to answer most of its questions and “predictably tried to lead the focus away from substantive issues and instead stoked a nationalist narrative.”

“In short, the Adani Group has attempted to conflate its meteoric rise and the wealth of its Chairman, Gautam Adani, with the success of India itself,” Hindenburg’s response added.

Adani’s dizzying rise closely mirrored Modi’s own journey to India’s top political job. Soon after Modi became chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, where both men hail from, he faced scathing corporate censure around the religious riots that erupted in 2002. Adani defended him and created a biennial “Vibrant Gujarat” investment summit that burnished Modi’s pro-business credentials.

The billionaire’s face-off with the short seller dominated social media in India. The hashtag #AdaniGroup was trending on Twitter Monday morning with people taking views on both sides of the debate.

“These kinds of reports where you yourself are making money have to be discounted,” said Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — the ideological parent of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. “Adani is not burning cash, assets are being built. This won’t affect broader sentiment toward India.”

The back-and-forth comes during the last leg of the follow-on offer by Adani Enterprises Ltd., which is scheduled to close Tuesday. It received overall subscriptions of 1% on Friday, when bonds and shares of Adani entities plunged — some by their daily 20% limits. Adani himself lost more than $20 billion of his personal wealth last week with the stock rout.

–With assistance from Sudhi Ranjan Sen.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

After 30 Years, the King of ETFs Faces a Fight for Its Crown

How to Be 18 Years Old Again for Only $2 Million a Year

The US Hasn’t Noticed That China-Made Cars Are Taking Over the World

Even $370 Billion in US Incentives Won’t Solve All of Solar’s Struggles

Giving Four Months’ Notice or Paying to Quit Has These Workers Feeling Trapped

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.