January 2024 \ Business & Investment \ Business and Governance

Mumbai: Jan 5 (IANS) When Hindenburg Research released its report, making allegations against the Adani Group a year ago, it was difficult to imagine if the conglomerate would ever emerge from the crisis and continue on its growth path. But Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani showed his mettle and resilience and bounced back from adversity. And how!

The US short-seller’s intent to bring down the Group with its damning report and earn profits through its short positions fell flat. The Supreme Court’s judgment on January 3 rejecting the plea for a probe by the CBI or an SIT into the Adani-Hindenburg case laid all speculation to rest. The court also dismissed the petitioners’ reliance on a third-party report and affirmed faith in SEBI’s handling of the case.

There was a wave of anti-Adani narratives gaining ground following the release of the report in January 2023. Conspiracy theories began to proliferate, finding their way from the fringes into the mainstream. These were discussed and debated by politicians, activists, journalists, and members of the public, making news headlines.

Though the report triggered a massive fall in Adani stocks and market value and the billionaire’s wealth nosedived by over 60 percent, he was not cowed down by the malicious attack. Without wasting any time, he started consolidating his businesses by repaying debts. It was a smart decision to win the investors’ confidence. In the months following the attack, the Group took several measures to regain the trust of investors. Be it GQG Partners or the UAE-based IHC, all reposed trust in him and invested in the Group’s businesses.

How many of us can find an upside to adversity? Or believe that overcoming obstacles is more helpful than having advantages? People close to Adani vouch for the man’s perseverance in the face of a crisis and the way he overcomes an obstacle and turns it into an opportunity.

Mundra in Bhuj, Gujarat, is testimony to the man’s obstinacy and vision to create a marvel in the barren lands of Kutch. To achieve this goal, he turned every stumbling block into a positive thing and proved all his critics, who dismissed his idea, wrong. His passion and perseverance led to the creation of the state-of-the-art Mundra Port, the largest commercial port in India.

Building a business with resources at hand is one thing; building an empire from scratch is the act of an alchemist. First came the jetty that made way for a port, which led to a coal-based power plant that paved the way for the mining business. His ability to combine things to create multiple assets is a propeller for expansion, and the result is the creation of adjacencies.

Early on, the Group focused on seeking control over the value chain and began investing in inter-connected businesses or adjacencies. For example, to run its thermal power plants, it acquired coal mines in India, Indonesia and Australia; it transports coal on Adani ships to Adani Ports and finally, to Adani power plants, which then transmit power to households and businesses.

The Group’s infrastructure network has grown so vast that it has become indispensable for both local businesses and foreign firms. For instance, MNCs like Tata or Microsoft may use Adani ports or airports for transport and logistics. The large size of the Group also means that any disruption or turmoil may adversely affect the Indian economy.

At the same time, the dependence of the economy on Adani could keep its kitty full of profits because continuous use of its assets will result in constant cash flows.

How one deals with stress depends on how one processes it. Some see it as a threat, while others welcome it as a challenge. If viewed as a challenge, one gets into combat mode, which generates energy and an adrenaline rush to deal with it. The Group viewed the Hindenburg report as a challenge. He did his best to find a silver lining in the events of the past year. Sometimes things seemed out of control, but he maintained his focus and perspective.

In fact, during this period of volatility, there were no rating downgrades. International banks remained steadfast in their support to Adani portfolio companies, driven by their belief in the robust business model, cash flow and strong balance sheets.

The Group has maintained that it believes in transparency and adheres to it. The scathing attack by Hindenburg failed to dent its image as it was given a clean chit by the regulatory authority on several counts; some questions pertaining to the DRI were dismissed by the Supreme Court in March 2023.

In its May report, the SC panel gave the Adani Group a clean chit. It stated that the conglomerate took the required actions to reassure individual investors following the release of the Hindenburg report. It added that there was no regulatory failure on the part of SEBI and no pricing manipulation on the part of the Adani Group.

Though cliched, this adage is true in his case: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” A man who rose from being a diamond sorter to one of the richest men in the world has risen from challenge to challenge, scaling newer and mightier peaks.