Business

"Have Always Been Transparent": Adani Group On SEBI Probing Some Firms

Adani Total Gas, Adani Transmission, Adani Green Energy and Adani Power declined by 5 per cent

Companies controlled by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani fell for a second day Tuesday, after the junior finance minister told parliament that some of them are being probed by the country's markets regulator over compliance with securities rules. Besides the Securities and Exchange Board of India, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, or DRI, is also "investigating certain entities" belonging to the Adani Group for compliance to another set of local laws, junior Finance Minister Pankaj Chaudhary said in response to a lawmaker's question in parliament on Monday. Mr Chaudhary didn't elaborate on the investigations or name the Adani group companies being probed.

Shares of all six listed Adani group companies slipped in early trading Tuesday. Adani Total Gas, Adani Transmission, Adani Green Energy and Adani Power declined by 5 per cent in Mumbai. Flagship Adani Enterprises fell as much as 3.2 per cent, while Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone dropped 2.6 per cent, compared with a 0.7 per cent drop in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex during trading.

The minister's comment follows a local media report last month that said accounts of three Mauritius-based funds, with a significant exposure to Adani Group stocks, were frozen by the national stock depository due to insufficient disclosures. While the ports-to-power conglomerate strongly pushed back against the report, investor concerns stoked a stock rout that shaved billions of dollars off Adani companies' market value.

"We have always been transparent with all our regulators and have full faith in them," an Adani group spokesperson said in a statement on Monday. The conglomerate has always complied with SEBI regulations and made full disclosures on "specific information requests" from the regulator in the past, according to the statement which added that the group had not received any communication or information requests recently.

Show-Cause Notice

The DRI probe relates to a show-cause notice issued to Adani Power five years back. The federal agency gave an order saying that there was "no over-valuation of equipment" by Adani Power -- a ruling that was challenged in a local tribunal and is subjudice, the spokesperson said, without elaborating.

Mr Chaudhary declined to say if another probe by the federal income tax department was underway citing legal rules, but clarified that no investigation was being conducted by the Enforcement Directorate that looks into economic crimes, including violations of India's money laundering laws.

The three Mauritius-based funds held more than 95 per cent of their assets in Adani Group firms -- a highly unusual allocation strategy for foreign funds.

Mr Chaudhary told the lawmakers on Monday that there was no restriction on the funds, except for a 2016 order that only applied to issuances of global depository receipts by certain Indian listed companies.

Still, shares of Adani companies have dropped since last month, when details on the funds were first reported.

Gautam Adani's net worth, which had surged the most in the world in March, has now taken a hit and is now at $52.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The tycoon is now the fourth-richest person in Asia, down from no. 2 earlier this year.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)