India’s top court asked the country’s market regulator on Thursday to investigate any possible lapses in securities law or other regulatory disclosures by the Adani group.
The Supreme Court of India also ordered the formation of an investor-protection panel after sharp falls in the Adani group’s shares over the past four to five weeks.
Allegations of business malpractice by the Hindenburg Research group in New York in late January caused a massive plunge in the market capitalization of Adani’s seven listed companies, although that appears to have bottomed now in recent days.
Indian markets regulator SEBI has been investigating the Hindenburg report that alleged the Adani group improperly used offshore tax havens and manipulated stocks. The conglomerate has denied doing so.
Market losses now total about $135 billion
SEBI previously told the court it was investigating the allegations made in the report and market activity immediately preceding and following its publication.
The Supreme Court asked SEBI to check “whether there has been a failure to disclose transactions with related parties” and “whether there was any manipulation of stock prices in contravention of existing laws”.
The ruling was announced by a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, which heard several public-interest litigations on losses investors suffered due to the stock market rout triggered by the Hindenburg report.
Seven listed companies of the Adani group have lost about $135 billion in value since the report was published.
Billionaire Gautam Adani, whose personal wealth has plunged from over $100 billion to $39 billion, welcomed the Supreme Court order. “It will bring finality in a time bound manner. Truth will prevail,” he said in a post on Twitter.
Flagship stock Adani Enterprises rose 2.7% on Thursday, while Adani Green Energy and Adani Power both rose by close to 5%.
Six-member panel to report in 2 months
Hindenburg Research said in its report it had identified numerous “undisclosed related party transactions” by both listed and private Adani companies, allegedly in violation of Indian disclosure laws.
In its rebuttal, Adani said “all related party transactions are at arm’s length, properly disclosed and reviewed/audited by statutory independent auditors”.
The court also formed a panel to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to examine how investor protection mechanisms can be strengthened.
The six-member panel, which is due to report back within two months, will include former chairman of State Bank of India OP Bhatt and prominent banker KV Kamath.
It has been asked “to provide an overall assessment of the situation”, Chandrachud said.
Adani has sought to calm investors and this week held a fixed-income roadshow in Singapore and Hong Kong. The group, according to sources, has told creditors it has secured a $3-billion loan from a sovereign wealth fund.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard