Protests in India kick off over USD 112 bn vanishing from the market

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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 USD 112 bn in under two weeks.

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

Adani group crisis

The crisis was triggered by U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg Research’s January 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, however, the group’s shares still fell significantly. In the brutal fallout of Hindenburg’s report, Adani group flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd was forced to abandon a USD 2.5 bn 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.

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

The downfall

The stock market rout triggered a series of credit rating 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.

Since the January 24 report was released Shares of Adani Enterprises sank 9.6 percent, Adani Transmission Ltd dropped 10 percent, while Adani Green Energy Ltd, Adani Total Gas Ltd, Adani Power, and Adani Wilmar fell roughly 5 percent giving a total of approximately USD 112 bn in market losses.

No reason to be worried?

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”.

Furthermore, 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.