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Adani speaks: Interest of my investors is paramount

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 02, 2023 20:41 IST
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Once the market stabilises, we will review our capital market strategy, says the embattled Gautam Adani.

Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani addresses investors after the withdrawal of the fully subscribed FPO. Photograph: ANI Photo

Embattled billionaire Gautam Adani on Thursday spoke publicly for the first time since his ports-to-energy conglomerate publicly battled a short seller's accusation of stock manipulation and accounting fraud, saying the abrupt move to withdraw a fully-subscribed share sale at his flagship firm was due to market volatility.

His group continued to lose on the stock market, with the cumulative rout now nearing $108 billion in a week -- one of the biggest wipeouts in India's history.

"After a fully subscribed follow-on public offering (of Adani Enterprises Ltd), yesterday's decision of its withdrawal would have surprised many.


"But considering the volatility of the market seen yesterday, the board strongly felt that it would not be morally correct to proceed with the FPO," Adani said in a video message to investors.

The company decided to refund the money to investors.

Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) closed at Rs 1,564.70 on the BSE on Thursday, less than half the price at which shares were offered to investors in the follow-on public offer (FPO) that closed on January 31.

Sources close to the group said it was felt that investors may feel cheated for investing in AEL shares in a price band of Rs 3,112-3,276 when the stock is available in the open market at a much lesser rate.

The offer price of the Rs 20,000 crore FPO was at a discount to the trading price when it was first announced last month.

But the US-based short seller's report triggered a selldown in stocks of all 10 group companies and the cumulative loss of value is now close to $108 billion.

"In my humble journey of over 4 decades as an entrepreneur I have been blessed to receive overwhelming support from all stakeholders, particularly the investor community...

"For me, the interest of my investors is paramount and everything is secondary.

"Hence to insulate the investors from potential losses, we have withdrawn the FPO," Adani said.

US-based short seller Hindenburg Research's report and the stock rout figured in Parliament on Thursday, with opposition parties seeking a discussion and a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also asked banks for details of their exposure to the Adani Group.

Adani said the decision to withdraw the FPO will not have any impact on the group's existing operations and future plans.

"We will continue to focus on timely execution and delivery of projects."

"The fundamentals of our company are strong.

"Our balance sheet is healthy and assets, robust. Our EBITDA levels and cash flows have been very strong and we have an impeccable track record of fulfilling our debt obligations.

"We will continue to focus on long term value creation and growth will be managed by internal accruals," he said.

The share sale plans will be considered once the market stabilises.

"Once the market stabilises, we will review our capital market strategy," he said.

Adani group, he said, has a strong focus on ESG and every business will continue to create value in a responsible way.

"The strongest validation of our governance principles comes from several international partnerships we have built across our different entities."

Abu Dhabi's International Holding Co., which invested about $400 million in AEL's FPO as anchor investor, said the funds have been returned.

It was among 33 investors who poured in close to Rs 6,000 crore on January 24 -- the day Hindenburg came out with its report.

State-run insurance behemoth Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) took 5 per cent of the anchor portion. It already holds a 4.23 per cent stake in AEL and has exposures in other group companies as well, including a 9.14 per cent stake in Adani Ports and 5.96 per cent in Adani Total Gas.

The FPO opened to the public on January 27 and managed to get fully subscribed on the last day on January 31 after non-retail investors poured in money even though the offer price was higher than the stock's trading price on the bourses.

Adani, who last year became the world's second-richest man with a $147 billion fortune, has seen his own personal wealth plummet by around $57 billion since then.

The January 24 report accused Adani Group companies of "brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud".

The group has denied all allegations, calling the report "bogus" and full of lies, and has threatened legal action.

Citigroup Inc's wealth arm as also Credit Suisse Group AG have stopped accepting securities of Adani Group firms as collateral for margin loans as banks ramp up scrutiny of the conglomerate's finances.

Hindenburg in its report said Adani companies had "substantial debt" and that shares in seven listed companies have an 85 per cent downside due to what it called "sky-high valuations".

Adani Group has maintained that its companies have "consistently de-levered".

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