While an explosive report by Hindenburg Research about India’s Adani Group has triggered fear that it could lead to serious economic turmoil for the south Asian nation’s economy, it has been reported that a number of billionaires world over are exposed to the conglomerate’s sensational crash.
Bloomberg reported that some of the world’s richest people, including the Waltons and the family behind France’s Saade shipping dynasty own companies in partnerships with Adani. Besides, Malaysia’s richest man, a powerful shipping businessman and two of the wealthiest families in the world are among names that have been caught up in the unravelling of the Adani story.
The gigantic episode has suddenly exposed investors and joint-venture investors of various businesses of the Adani Group from the US to France to the Middle East. The international partners, whose tie-ups include among others, data-centre servicing, packaged food, and port management, showed the reach of the conglomerate that has been accused of fraud by short-seller Hindenburg Research last week.
While the group, led by Gautam Adani who belongs to Gujarat, the home state of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, saw a phenomenal rise in recent years, with parent entity Adani Enterprises Limited surging more than a whopping 1600 per cent in 12 months to its apex in December. That made Adani the second-richest person on the planet for a brief period, as per Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
According to the Hindenburg report, much of that growth was helped by excessive debt and “brazen stock manipulation”.
Needless to say, Adani denied all allegations.
The series of partnerships that Adani entered with billionaires and corporate giants such as Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart are a way in which he was able to see an rapid expansion, the Bloomberg report added.
The turmoil surrounding the conglomerate’s business means the consequences will be felt beyond the Indian shores.
Here are some magnates and corporates across the world that are exposed to the snowballing crisis:
Wilmar International, which is controlled by the family of Robert Kuok, Malaysia’s richest person and a resident of Hong Kong resident Robert Kuok. It is one of Adani’s oldest partners and their joint venture, Adani Wilmar Ltd., has a market value of Rs 547.2 billion rupees ($6.7 billion).
Retail giant Walmart, roughly half of which is owned by the Waltons or the world’s second-richest family, is exposed to Adani companies through its Indian subsidiary Flipkart, the subcontinent’s dominant e-commerce business. It made a partnership with Adani Logistics in 2021 to strengthen its “supply chain infrastructure” whereby Adani would host a new data centre and build and lease to Flipkart a 534,000-square foot (49,610-square-metre) fulfillment centre in Mumbai, India’s financial capital.
In 2021, EdgeConneX, a Virginia-based data-centre services company owned by private equity firm EQT AB, set up a 50-50 joint venture with Adani Group to develop one gigawatt of data-centre capacity across India, with the centers mostly powered by renewable energy. Phillip Marangella, EdgeConneX’s chief marketing and product officer, said the accusations brought by Hindenburg “have had no effect” on the joint venture and that the Indian company “has been a valued partner with great assets, capabilities and a proven track record of delivery”, Bloomberg added.
CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container shipping company, inked in 2017 a 15-year deal with Adani Group to run a terminal at Mundra Port, India’s largest private facility located in Gujarat. The France-based CMA is majority-owned by CEO Rodolphe Saade and his two siblings.
While Abu Dhabi-based International Holding Co. (IHC) is not strictly a venture partner of Adani, but it’s one of the Indian group’s most critical backers. The firm’s majority owner is Royal Group, a vehicle which belongs to Sheikh Tahnoon, the UAE’s national security adviser and a member of the world’s richest family. IHC has invested almost $2 billion in various Adani businesses. IHC retained confidence in Adani in the aftermath of the unsettling Hindenburg report and invested about $400 million in its parent group’s follow-on share sale. The funds were returned after the Indian company yanked the offering, Bloomberg added.
Adani’s recent acquisition of Israel’s second-largest port and biggest cruise ship hub in Haifa came through a venture with Gadot Group, a chemicals supplier owned by two investment firms of that country. Adani and Gadot bagged the government tender to run the port last year for $1.2 billion and formally formalised the deal earlier this week at an event in Haifa. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was present on the occasion and hailed the “connectivity” the port could offer between Israel and India.