Adani crisis sparks protests and arrests in India as sell-off losses top $110 billion
The crisis engulfing the Adani group intensified on Monday as dozens of members of India’s main opposition party were detained by police during protests, and parliament was suspended again due to disruptions over the saga.
Adani shares continued their freefall, with the conglomerate’s cumulative market value loss topping $110 billion.
The crisis was triggered by US-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 New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, a Mughal-era observatory that doubles up as a protest site for all causes, protesters held up banners and shouted slogans against Adani group’s billionaire founder Gautam Adani. Some broke through barricades, forcing the police to detain them.
Hundreds of members of the Congress party gathered to protest across the country, including outside several offices of state-owned insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) (LIFI.NS) and State Bank of India (SBI) (SBI.NS), both of which have exposure to Adani group companies.
At Jantar Mantar, some members burnt a suitcase with an SBI logo on it.
Both houses of India’s parliament were adjourned on Monday, the third consecutive day, amid sloganeering and demands to launch an inquiry.
In the brutal fallout of Hindenburg’s report, Adani group flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd (ADEL.NS) was forced to abandon a $2.5 billion 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 benefited from their close ties, and Modi’s government has denied allegations of favouring Adani.