By Sethuraman N R and Forrest Crellin
BENGALURU (Reuters) -French oil major TotalEnergies will invest $300 million to form a joint venture with Adani Green Energy to build renewable capacity in India, the two companies’ first deal since India’s Adani Group was involved in an alleged tax fraud scandal.
Adani Group shares lost about $150 billion in value following allegations by U.S. short seller Hindenburg Research that the company engaged in improper dealings and used tax havens.
The group has denied the allegations, and its shares have since recovered some of their losses, particularly after a Supreme Court-appointed panel found no evidence of stock-price manipulation.
Deloitte, a previous auditor of Adani Ports, resigned from its role with the group in August amid concerns over the Hindenburg allegations which the company did not wish to look into independently.
Similar accusations of money laundering were reported from the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which said millions of dollars were invested in publicly traded stocks through offshore funds to obscure the buyers.
The TotalEnergies-Adani Green Energy joint venture deal for the development wind and solar farms was announced by both companies on Tuesday.
“This is a joint venture which gives TotalEnergies direct access to ownership of the assets contributed by (Adani),” a TotalEnergies spokesperson said, adding that it allows them to pursue their strategy of renewable growth in India.
TotalEnergies already owns about 20% of Adani Green.
Adani Green will contribute assets to the joint venture, it said in a statement, adding that the deal will help it achieve its target of having 45 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Previously, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was linked to a deal to pick up $500 million worth of shares in Adani Green Energy via block deals. Other companies have since denied being connected to the group.
Adani Green said its board had also approved signing a binding term sheet with Total to modify certain terms of investment in the venture, named Adani Green Energy Twenty Three.
The venture will have the capacity to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity from solar and wind farms.
(Reporting by Sethuraman NR in Bengaluru and Forrest Crellin in Paris; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala, Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Louise Heavens, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Porter)