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Adani sell-off extends; India“s opposition lawmakers launch protests

2023-02-06T06:55:20Z

The logo of the Adani Group is seen on the facade of its Corporate House on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, January 27, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Lawmakers of India’s main opposition party kicked off planned protests at some state-run companies on Monday over the crisis at Adani group, whose seven listed firms saw another sell-off that drove their market loss to $112 billion in under two weeks.

Members of the Congress party plan to protest outside several offices of state-owned insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) (LIFI.NS) and State Bank of India (SBI) (SBI.NS), both of which have exposure to Adani group companies.

At one of the protest sites in Mumbai, people held up banners with the words “Save SBI”, television footage showed.

The crisis was triggered by U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg Research’s Jan. 24 report that accused the Adani group of stock manipulation, unsustainable debt and use of tax havens.

The Adani group, one of India’s top conglomerates, has rejected the criticism and denied wrongdoing in detailed rebuttals, but that has failed to arrest the unabated fall in its shares.

In the brutal fallout of Hindenburg’s report, Adani group flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd (ADEL.NS) was forced to abandon a $2.5 billion share sale last week, and group chairman Gautam Adani lost his crown as Asia’s richest person and slipped down the global rankings of the wealthy.

Gautam Adani and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are from the same state. Adani has denied allegations by Modi’s opponents that he had benefited from their close ties, and Modi’s government has denied allegations of favouring Adani.

As the Adani shares spiralled lower and cast a pall over Indian markets last week, lawmakers disrupted parliament and demanded an inquiry.

The stock market rout triggered a series of credit ratings warnings on Friday with Moody’s saying the group may struggle to raise capital, and S&P cutting its outlook on two group companies.

Even attempts by regulators and the government to calm spooked investors do not appear to be working.

The Reserve Bank of India said on Friday the country’s banking system remains resilient and stable. India’s market regulator said on Saturday the country’s financial markets remain stable and continue to function in a transparent and efficient manner.

SBI said on Friday it was not concerned about the exposure to the Adani group, but further financing to its projects would be “evaluated on its own merit”.

India’s divestment secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey told Reuters on Friday that LIC shareholders and customers should not be concerned about its exposure to the Adani group.

LIC has a 4.23% equity stake in the flagship Adani Enterprises, while its other exposures include a 9.14% stake in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSE.NS).

Shares of Adani Enterprises sank 9.6% on Monday, taking its market capitalisation losses to nearly $28 billion since the release of the short-seller’s report.

Adani Transmission Ltd (ADAI.NS) dropped 10%, while Adani Green Energy Ltd (ADNA.NS), Adani Total Gas Ltd (ADAG.NS), Adani Power (ADAN.NS), and Adani Wilmar (ADAW.NS) fell roughly 5%.

Adani Ports was the only stock to buck the trend, rising 1.2%.