Embattled Adani group has appointed accountancy firm Grant Thornton for an independent audit of some of its companies in a bid to come clean of the damning allegations levelled by the US short-seller Hindenburg Research and to assure investors and regulators.
Sources said the audit is primarily to show to regulators like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that the group has nothing to hide, and it is in compliance with relevant laws.
The audit will specifically look into if there was any misappropriation or repatriation of funds and if loans were used for any purpose other than the one they were intended for.
The audit, they said, would go a long way to show that the books are healthy and project executions are on track – something that the investors are keenly watching given the damage to market value that the Hindenburg report has caused.
As the run on its shares continued, Adani Group had on Monday attempted to calm the market, saying its growth plans are intact, business plans are fully funded and it remains confident of delivering returns to shareholders.
Market value of the group’s seven listed companies has halved since the January 24 report by the US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research alleged that Adani pulled “the largest con in corporate history” using offshore tax havens and stock manipulation.
The group has denied all allegations, calling them “malicious”, “baseless” and a “calculated attack on India”. It called Hindenburg the “Madoffs of Manhattan”, referring to the late financier and fraudster Bernie Madoff.
“Balance sheet of each of our independent portfolio companies is very healthy,” the group spokesperson had said. “We have industry leading development capabilities, strong corporate governance, secure assets, strong cash flows, and our business plan is fully funded.” The group debunked reports of a cut in growth goal and capex. Projects may be delayed but none is shelved or deferred and plans for expansion of solar, green hydrogen and airports were on track.
“Once the current market stabilizes, each entity will review its own capital market strategy, be rest assured, we are confident in the continued ability of our portfolio to deliver superior returns to shareholders,” the spokesperson added.
The Adani crisis has sparked worries of financial contagion in India and ability to carry on infrastructure projects.
Last week, French oil major TotalEnergies said it would wait for the result of an independent audit before proceeding with investing in Adani Group’s $50 billion plans to make green hydrogen.
According to Bernstein Research, Adani Green is capable of paying off all its debt of Rs 22,000 crore due in the financial year ending in March 2025, if it divests some renewable energy assets, seeks fresh equity capital from existing investors, or cancels some planned projects and avoids bidding for new ones.
The spokesperson, however, termed questions over the group’s ability to fund projects and refinance debt as ‘unfounded speculation’.
Last week, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the ratings outlook for four Adani group companies to negative from stable, while index provider MSCI said it would cut the weightage of some of its stocks in its indices.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the country’s regulators are very experienced and are seized of the matter relating to the Adani Group crisis.
“India’s regulators are very, very experienced and they are experts in their domain. The regulators are seized of this matter and they are on their toes as always, not just now,” she had said.
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