Shares of Adani Group Firms Continue to Fall Despite Govt’s Efforts to Calm Investors

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered has stopped accepting Adani Group bonds as collateral for giving loans to their private banking clients, after Credit Suisse and Citigroup.

New Delhi: Shares of most Adani Group companies continued to fall on Monday, February 6, despite the Union government’s efforts to calm investors saying that their exposure to the group is “within limits”.

In the morning, the shares of Adani Enterprises opened on a weak note at Rs 1,597.95 on the BSE, then fell further to Rs 1,433.60, registering a fall of 9.50% as investors continued to offload their holdings, PTI reported. The shares ended lower by 0.75% at Rs 1,572.40 apiece on the BSE.

Out of the nine Adani stocks, only three ended in green.

Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone gained 9.46% to close at Rs 546.05 apiece on the BSE. ACC was up 2.24%, and Ambuja Cements up 1.54% on the BSE.

Adani Power was down 5%, Adani Transmission (10%), Adani Green Energy (5%), Adani Total Gas (5%), and Adani Wilmar (5%).

BSE and NSE have put Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, and Ambuja Cements under their short-term additional surveillance measure.

According to Business Insider, the group lost Rs 31,534 crore in market capitalisation on Monday.

US-based short seller Hindenburg Research in its report accused Adani Group of using offshore tax havens, accounting fraud and stock manipulation, which the group denied. The report and its aftermath wiped out $110 billion from Adani‘s listed stocks in slightly more than a week and forced it to shelve a Rs20,000-crore share sale.

Also read: With the Adani Crisis, Is Narendra Modi’s House of Cards at Risk?

Bonds out

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered has stopped accepting Adani Group bonds as collateral for giving loans to their private banking clients, after Credit Suisse and Citigroup.

Credit Suisse assigned ‘zero lending value’ to bonds issued by Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone, Adani Green Energy and Adani Electricity Mumbai on February 1 – the day Adani Group called off its share sale. It earlier offered a lending value of about 75% for the bonds issued by Adani Ports.

This means that the client who held Adani bonds as collateral could borrow up to 75% of the bonds’ value.

When a private bank cuts lending value to zero, clients need to offer more cash or another form of collateral, and if they fail to do so, their securities can be liquidated.

These decisions were taken amid volatility in the prices of Adani bonds.

Mint reported on February 2 that Adani Group’s bonds were trading at distressed levels in the US markets. The report said that the yields on some bonds of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone and Adani Green Energy skyrocketed past average levels for global junk bonds.

“Some bonds of Adani Ports & Special Economic zone and Adani Green Energy yield more than 30% in global secondary markets, which is much higher than the average investment grade yield of 4.96% and junk bond yield of 8.14%,” it said.

When bond yields go up, it is a signal that corporates will have to pay a higher interest cost on debt, increasing the risk of default.

According to experts, such a steep rise in yields have raised concerns over the company’s ability to raise capital abroad.

While noting uncertainties around Adani, Goldman Sachs analysts Kenneth Ho and Chakki Ting told CNBC that the group’s outstanding dollar bonds may hurt investor sentiment, but those concerns will be “unlikely to have a broader contagion impact”.

Meanwhile, the group is likely to shelve plans to raise around $500 million in overseas bond sales and will “explore other financing options” including internal reserves, the Economic Times reported.

Separately, Adani Group, according to Reuters, denied media reports saying that the conglomerate was planning to cut back its capital spending. It said, according to Mint, that it is providing more collateral in the form of stock pledges to lenders.

Also read: ‘Storm in a Teacup’: Government Breaks Silence on Adani Crisis

Hindenburg allegations

Based on a two-year investigation into the Adani Group, Hindenburg Research alleged that Adani Group was involved in ‘stock manipulation’ and ‘accounting fraud’. It also alleged that offshore funds – primarily in Mauritius – own Rs 36,000 crore worth of shares in the Adani Group stocks. But these funds are not independently managed; they have common owners, the Morning Context reported, citing the Hindenburg report. The three funds – Monterosa, Elara and New Leaina – are engaged in circuitous trading and market manipulation of the Adani Group stocks, it said.

The group has denied the allegations and called the Hindenburg report a “calculated attack on India.” It further said that it plans to take legal action against Hindenburg Research. The US short seller welcomed the plan, saying it will demand documents in legal discovery process if the group files a lawsuit in the US against the short seller.

Meanwhile, a Forbes’ analysis has revealed that three investment funds with ties to the Adani Group committed to buying up shares as investors in the Adani Enterprises’ share sale. The three firms are: Mauritius-based funds, Ayushmat Ltd and Elm Park Fund, and India-based Aviator Global Investment Fund. These three firms together agreed to buy 9.24% of all shares available to anchor investors.

Anchor investors are allotted shares a day before the share sale opens. Investment by anchor investors instills confidence in the retail investors.

Watch | ‘SEBI Should Indicate It Is Inquiring Into Adani Group Scandal’

Accounting standards

The Adani-Hindenburg issue has also raised concerns over India’s corporate governance.

An investigation by the Morning Context had flagged issues of inadequate spending by the Adani Group on its accounting practices – a process crucial for building a sustainable and credible business.

“In 2020-21, Adani Enterprises paid a little over Rs 7 crore to its statutory auditors, a modest amount compared to the Rs 84 crore paid by rival Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries,” the report which was published in October 2022 said.

The news outlet reported that the auditor who signs off the books of the conglomerate’s flagship company has only five years of experience, and that it merits a review. It also reported that the auditors are closely linked to each other.

Added to that, the Financial Times reported that Adani Group ditched a Big Four audit firm Deloitte for Crowe UK. The British firm is not even ranked in the top 10 UK audit firms.

The UK firm earned £143,000 for its 2022 audit of Adani Energy Holdings, down from the  £257,000 that Deloitte charged, the report said.

Amid governance risks and funding challenges, S&P Global Ratings slashed its outlook on Adani Group to negative. Moody’s said that the group’s ability to raise capital has likely been impacted by “adverse developments. However, Fitch said there’s no immediate impact on the credit profile of the group companies it rates.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India is looking into the matter. However, several questions were raised over lawyer Cyril Shroff’s role in the SEBI committee, which is probing the Hindenburg-Adani matter.