Adani Group said on Thursday it is evaluating “remedial and punitive action” under US and Indian laws against short-seller Hindenburg Research.
The US-based research group on Tuesday accused the conglomerate of improper use of offshore tax havens. Its report led to shares in seven listed Adani group companies losing over $10.7 billion in market capitalisation in India.
Hindenburg also said it held short positions in the conglomerate through its US-traded bonds and non-Indian-traded derivative instruments. Adani’s US bonds also fell.
In a statement to Indian exchanges, Adani Group’s legal head, Jatin Jalundhwala, called the Hindenburg report “maliciously mischievous, (and) unresearched”.
“We are evaluating the relevant provisions under US and Indian laws for remedial and punitive action against Hindenburg Research,” the statement said.
The report has “adversely affected the Adani Group, our shareholders and investors. The volatility in Indian stock markets created by the report is of great concern,” it added.
Hindenburg did not respond immediately to a request for comment outside regular US business hours. The short-seller has a track-record of finding corporate wrongdoings and placing bets against the companies.
Its January 24 report questioned how the Adani Group, which is led by Gautam Adani, the world’s third richest person according to Forbes, has used entities in offshore tax havens such as Mauritius and the Caribbean Islands for improper purposes.
It also said key listed Adani companies had “substantial debt” which has put the entire group on a “precarious financial footing”.
Adani on Wednesday called the report baseless.
The report coincided with Adani’s upcoming $2.5-billion secondary share sale on Friday. The anchor portion of the issue saw participation from Maybank Securities and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority among others on Wednesday.
Founded in 2017 by Nathan Anderson, Hindenburg Research is a forensic financial research firm which analyses equity, credit and derivatives.
On its website, Hindenburg says it looks for “man-made disasters,” such as accounting irregularities, mismanagement and undisclosed related-party transactions. The company invests its own capital.
It was named after the high profile disaster of the Hindenburg airship in 1937 which ignited as it flew into New Jersey. After finding potential wrongdoings, Hindenburg usually publishes a report explaining the case and bets against the target company, hoping to make a profit.
Hindenburg has flagged potential wrongdoing in at least 16 companies since 2017, according to its website.
Nathan Anderson, who graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in international business, started his career in finance at data company FactSet Research Systems Inc, where he worked with investment management companies.
“I realized they were doing a lot of run-of-the-mill analysis, there was a lot of conformity,” he told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in 2020. He also did a brief earlier stint as an ambulance driver in Israel.
The short-seller says on his LinkedIn page that it gave him “experience thinking and acting under extreme pressure.” Anderson has said in interviews that Harry Markpolos, an analyst who first flagged Bernie Madoff’s fraud scheme, is his role model.
Hindenburg is best known for its bet against electric truck maker Nikola Corp in September 2020, which generated “a big win,” he told the WSJ, declining to specify the amount.
The short-seller said Nikola deceived investors about its technological developments. Anderson challenged a video Nikola produced showing its electric truck cruising at high speed – in fact the vehicle was rolled down a hill.
Hindenburg says whistleblowers and former employees helped it with findings.
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