Adani Group’s historic market crash showed signs of easing after the Indian conglomerate travelled to restore confidence and win a $1.9 billion investment from a prominent fund manager.
But a closer look at billionaire Gautam Adani’s empire reveals that while fears of a debt explosion over the next three years have receded, investors remain sceptical about the group’s long-term ability to repay. The port power conglomerate’s stock market slump and uncertainty over its credit rating continued to raise concerns about its access to funding as short sellers accused it of fraud.
Adani is also cutting spending and repaying debt early to cushion a $153 billion plunge in its shares since US-based Hindenburg Research’s fraud allegations, which it denies. As the crisis of confidence unfolds, the following metrics could hold the key to funding managers’ decisions on the conglomerate.
While most of Adani Group’s $15 bonds were off their lows after Hindenburg’s January 24 report, only one remained in the red.
The group’s four notes due in late 2026 were trading between 84 cents and 94 cents, down from 91 cents to 99 cents before the report, but still indicating relatively low payment risk.
The situation is different for bonds with future maturities. Seven of the group’s 11 notes maturing in or after 2027 traded at or near 70 cents, a level that defines distress or severe concerns about timely payments.
After a plunge that wiped out nearly two-thirds of its total market value, the group’s 10 stocks staged their first collective rally on Wednesday since the Hindenburg report, with flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd. leading a nearly 15% gain.
The latest gains helped narrow the group’s market losses to about $140 billion from a peak of $153 billion.
But it is still early days. Shares in top losers Adani Total Gas Ltd, Adani Transmission Ltd and Adani Green Energy Ltd are still 70% to 80% below their January 24 levels. Hindenburg said in his report that Adani’s seven major shares of the same name are highly valued and face an 85% downside.
Moody’s Investors Service cut its outlook for Adani Green and three other group companies to negative from stable last month, saying refinancing of maturing debt, changes in capital spending plans and funding efforts are key variables to watch.
Further rating action could be taken if the company’s ability to raise capital weakens significantly, its borrowing costs increase significantly, or its fundamentals deteriorate.
Similarly, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Adani Group’s outlook to negative in February. Indian banks will likely charge a higher risk premium and become extra cautious after the crisis.
Analyst coverage for five of the seven major companies is minimal. Even for the other two, with larger followings, the brutal sell-off appears to have a limited impact on brokerage sentiment.
Flagship Adani Enterprises, tracked by just two brokerages, is divided into buy and hold recommendations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd, the crown jewel and part of India’s benchmark NSE Nifty 50 index, has the most followers, with its total number of buy calls rising to 21 from 20 before the crisis.
The crisis also spilt into ESG markets, prompting JPMorgan Asset Management to shed its related portfolio exposure to the Adani empire.
India’s Supreme Court said it had formed a panel on Thursday to investigate allegations against the Adani Group. It also asked the local market watchdog to investigate any manipulation of the group’s shares and report the findings within two months.