Adani group refutes reports on debt repayment concerns

Adani debt

MUMBAI: The Adani group is back in fire-fighting mode after media reports called into question the Indian conglomerate’s ability to repay debt, reviving a selloff in its stock.
Adani units slumped Tuesday after The Economic Times said the group is seeking to renegotiate the terms of $4 billion worth of loans, citing people it didn’t identify.
The declines — which saw the flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd sink more than 7% — were compounded by a report from The Ken flagging concerns over the group’s repayment of $2.15 billion of share-backed loans. The business news website said regulatory filings showed that banks have not yet released a large portion of founder Gautam Adani’s shares.
Adani group refuted the reports in separate statements Tuesday, calling the Economic Times’ claims “baseless speculation.” Later in the day, the company addressed The Ken report, saying it had paid off share-backed financing amounting to $2.15 billion and that the stock pledged for those facilities had been released.

Adani spokesman Jugeshinder Singh earlier tweeted that the report was a “deliberate misrepresentation.”
The reports come at an inopportune moment for the empire of billionaire Adani. They revive concerns about the group’s access to funds just as it’s working to restore confidence following explosive allegations by short seller Hindenburg Research in January.
Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd fell 5.7% to close at 593.40 rupees on Tuesday — lower than the price investor GQG Partners paid to buy a stake earlier this month. It plummeted more than 9% at one point in the session. The sharp selloff in all Adani stocks erased about $6.2 billion from their combined market value, the biggest decline since early February.

Dollar-denominated Adani debt also fell following the reports.

The Economic Times said Adani group had started talks with lenders to extend the tenor of a $3 billion bridge loan to a period of five years or beyond from the existing 18 months. The group is seeking to increase the maturity of another $1 billion mezzanine loan, according to the report.

The Ken report, meanwhile, said exchange filings show banks haven’t released a large portion of the promoters’ shares held as collateral, indicating the debt hasn’t been fully paid off.

“All share-backed facilities availed by the promoters have been paid off,” the group said in its statement late Tuesday. Listed company positions for the flagship, the ports unit, Adani Green Energy Ltd. and Adani Transmission Ltd. have been reduced substantially, with only residual share pledges corresponding to operating company facilities still outstanding, the statement said.

Operating company facilities are part of the units’ existing debt structures, and no new facilities have been availed since the Hindenburg report, the group said. These facilities don’t have covenants like cash margin calls or share-price linked put options, according to the statement.

Indian capital market regulations stipulate that companies must disclose obligations on the pledge or release of shares that amount to 5% or more in listed entities. These rules only apply to Adani Ports and not the transmission or green energy units, the conglomerate said.

Before the rebuttal, Sameer Kalra, founder of Target Investing, said the Ken report “increases the risks,” for the group in refinancing. “The global banking crisis has resulted in a tightening of liquidity and the cost of it,” the investor said.