Adani invokes ‘matrabhumi’, again slams Hindenburg for malicious attempt to damage reputation

Speaking at the Adani Enterprises annual general meeting, Gautam Adani refuted allegations made by US short-seller Hindenburg Research

by US short-seller Hindenburg Research
by US short-seller Hindenburg Research

‘Deliberate, malicious attempt aimed at damaging Group’s reputation’: Gautam Adani takes a dig at the Hindenburg research report

Billionaire Gautam Adani on Tuesday invoked growth prospects of ‘matrabhumi‘ India and the potential it offers for his business empire as he again slammed US short-seller Hindenburg for a ‘malicious’ attempt to damage the reputation of his conglomerate. At the annual shareholders meeting of his ports-to-energy conglomerate, Adani said the group’s assets and operating cashflows have got stronger and healthier and it will continue to consolidate what it has built while looking at expanding its horizons.

He used the same language as he had used in the annual reports of his group’s listed firms last month, to hit back at Hindenburg Research’s “malicious” allegations and “false narratives” that “various vested interests tried to exploit“. He has reiterated that his conglomerate remains confident in its governance and disclosure standards.

Hindenburg on January 24 accused Adani of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” as well as using a “labyrinthian network” of shell companies for surreptitious money movements, allegations that the conglomerate has strongly denied, calling the report “a calculated attack on India”. The report lopped off close to USD 150 billion in the market value of the group’s listed companies at the lowest point and led to Adani losing the richest Indian tag.

Adani, 62, said the US short-seller published the report on the eve of India’s Republic Day. “The report was a combination of targeted misinformation and discredited allegations, the majority of them dating from 2004 to 2015. They were all settled by the appropriate authorities at that time.” “This report was a deliberate and malicious attempt aimed at damaging our reputation and generating profits through a short-term drive-down of our stock prices,” he said. He went on to refer to the expert committee constituted by the Supreme Court to look into the matter.

“The Expert Committee did not find any regulatory failure,” he said adding the panel confirmed the quality of the group’s disclosures and “found no instance of any breach. ….While SEBI (capital market regulator) is still to submit its report (on a separate probe into the allegations against Adani Group) in the months ahead, we remain confident of our governance and disclosure standards,” he added.

Adani then turned to his belief in the future of “matrabhumi” (the motherland). “While economic cycles are getting increasingly hard to forecast, there is little doubt that India – already the world’s 5th largest economy – will become the world’s 3rd largest economy well before 2030 and, thereafter, the world’s 2nd largest economy by 2050,” he said.

Citing the statistics of India’s growth story, he said India will start adding a trillion dollars to its GDP every 18 months, putting it on track to be a USD 25 to 30 trillion economy by 2050. “India’s success story of balancing economic growth and a vibrant democratic society has no parallel,” he said. “My belief in the growth story of our matrabhumi has never been stronger.” This growth is helping the conglomerate grow, he said.

“Our balance sheet, our assets, and our operating cash flows continue to get stronger and are now healthier than ever before. The pace at which we have made acquisitions and turned them around is unmatched across the national landscape and has fuelled a significant part of our expansion,” Adani said. “Our national and international partnerships are proof of our governance standards.”

Post-Hindenburg, Adani Group has recast its ambitions, scrapped acquisitions, pre-paid debt to address concerns about its cash flows and borrowings, and scaled back its pace of spending on new projects as part of a comeback strategy. Promoters raised USD 1.38 billion (Rs.11,330 crore) through stake sale in three group companies to US-based global equity investment boutique GQG Partners in two tranches.

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