NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Adani Group won relief from Supreme Court on Wednesday when judges ruled that the company, hit hard by a U.S. short-seller’s allegations last year of improper business dealings, does not need to face additional investigation.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been investigating the group after Hindenburg Research’s report in January last year set off an over $150 billion selloff in the conglomerate’s stocks despite the company’s denials of wrongdoing. The stocks have since recovered partially.
Here are some facts about billionaire Gautam Adani, his group and Hindenburg’s allegations.
WHO ARE ADANI AND HINDENBURG?
Gautam Adani built his empire after starting out as a commodities trader. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is from the same state and their relationship has long come under scrutiny by Modi’s opponents.
Before Hindenburg’s report, Adani, a school drop-out, rose to become Asia’s richest person, with businesses across ports, power generation, airports, mining, renewables, media and cement.
Hindenburg Research was founded in 2017 by Nathan Anderson. It is a forensic financial research firm which analyses equity, credit and derivatives. It has a track-record of finding corporate wrongdoings and placing bets against the companies.
WHAT DID HINDENBURG AND ADANI SAY?
Hindenburg disclosed last year it held short positions in Adani companies through U.S.-traded bonds and non-Indian-traded derivatives. It released a report that alleged Adani improperly used tax havens, and also flagged concerns about high debt levels at the company.
The Adani group called the report baseless and termed the allegations “unsubstantiated speculations”.
WHAT HAPPENED AT ADANI AFTER HINDENBURG REPORT?
Hindenburg’s report sparked a $150 billion meltdown in shares of Adani’s publicly listed companies last year. Though the shares are still down roughly $47 billion from their levels before the Hindenburg report, they have staged a smart recovery.
That’s partially because the ports-to-power conglomerate welcomed investors like Abu Dhabi conglomerate International Holding and investment firm GQG to shore up confidence by diluting some of the family’s tight shareholding.
WHAT WAS MARKET REGULATOR’S PROBE, COURT’S VERDICT?
SEBI has been investigating the conglomerate after Hindenburg’s allegations and the probe was being overseen by the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, in response to cases brought forward by public interest litigants, the court said the facts of the case did not warrant a transfer of investigation from the market regulator to other agencies.
The apex court also directed the regulator to complete its investigation of the group within three months.
WHAT DOES THE COURT VERDICT MEAN FOR THE ADANI GROUP?
Gautam Adani said the ruling showed truth has prevailed.
Analysts said the decision means SEBI will have the final say on the matter and signals regulatory scrutiny won’t increase further.
They also said the verdict will help global investors to have more confidence in investing in the shares of Adani Group.
Shares of various Adani Group companies surged after the ruling, including Adani Energy Solutions, Adani Total Gas, Adani Green Energy and the flagship business Adani Enterprises.
(Writing by Bansari Mayur Kamdar; Editing by Aditya Kalra and Raju Gopalakrishnan)