Legislators of India’s main opposition party have kicked off protests at some state-run companies over the crisis at Adani Group, whose seven listed firms saw another sell-off that drove their market loss to $112bn in less than two weeks.
Members of the Congress party on Monday protested outside several offices of state-owned insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and the State Bank of India (SBI), both of which have exposure to Adani Group companies.
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At one of the protest sites in Mumbai, people held up banners with the words “Save SBI”, television footage showed.
The crisis was triggered by United States-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 in detailed rebuttals, but that has failed to arrest the unabated fall in its shares.
In the brutal fallout of the Hindenburg report, Adani Group flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd was forced to abandon a $2.5bn 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.
Gautam Adani and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are from the same state. Adani has denied allegations by Modi’s opponents that he had benefitted from their close ties, and Modi’s government has denied allegations of favouring Adani.
As Adani shares spiralled lower and cast a pall over Indian markets last week, opposition legislators disrupted parliament proceedings on Monday and demanded an inquiry.
Credit ratings warnings
The stock market rout triggered a series of credit ratings 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.
The Reserve Bank of India said on Friday the country’s banking system remains resilient and stable. The next day, India’s market regulator said 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”.
India’s divestment secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey told Reuters news agency on Friday that LIC shareholders and customers should not be concerned about its exposure to the Adani Group.
LIC has a 4.23 percent equity stake in the flagship Adani Enterprises, while its other exposures include a 9.14 percent stake in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, Reuters said.
Shares of Adani Enterprises, which before the rout gained more than 1,000 percent in five years, sank 9.6 percent on Monday, taking its market capitalisation losses to nearly $28bn since the release of the report.
Adani Transmission Ltd dropped 10 percent, while Adani Green Energy Ltd, Adani Total Gas Ltd, Adani Power, and Adani Wilmar fell roughly 5 percent.
Adani Ports was the only stock to buck the trend, rising 1.2 percent.