India’s Adani Group to demerge more business

Dismissed debt concerns, says it plans to spin off more businesses by 2028


Reuters January 22, 2023
Adani Group’s total gross debt in the financial year ending March 31, 2022, rose 40% to 2.2 trillion rupees. PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI:

India’s Adani Group, which is controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, said it plans to spin off more businesses by 2028 and dismisses any debt concerns.

The corporate house plans to spin off, or demerge, its metals, mining, data centre, airports, roads and logistics businesses, said Chief Financial Officer Jugeshinder Singh.

“The criteria for these businesses are to achieve a basic investment profile and experienced management by 2025-28, which is when we plan to demerge them,” he told a media briefing on Saturday.

The company is betting big on its airport business and is aiming for it to become the largest services base in the country in the coming years, outside of government services, said Singh.

The Adani group has spun off its power, coal, transmission and green energy business in recent years.

Adani, the world’s third-richest man, according to Forbes, has been diversifying his empire from ports to energy and now owns a media company.

The flagship firm, Adani Enterprises, is set to raise up to $2.5 billion in a follow-on share sale, following a surge in the share price in recent years. Its stock increased by nearly 130% in 2022, but has dipped about 7% so far this year.

Other Adani group companies also rose over 100% last year, causing some investors to worry about the companies being overvalued.

However, some traditional valuation metrics are not relevant for the businesses, Singh said.

“We don’t look at P/E multiples for any of our businesses. For infrastructure businesses, the rate of return on assets deployed is relevant. Adani Enterprises works on a sum-of-parts model,” he said.

The company is offering a discount of 8.5%-13% to woo retail investors, according to its prospectus.

“We don’t go to market if we are not sure about raising the full amount ($2.5 billion),” Singh said, adding that the company wants to increase the participation of retail investors and is aiming for a primary issue instead of a rights issue.

It has said it plans to use the money to fund green hydrogen projects, airport facilities and Greenfield expressways, besides paring its debt.

The group has typically incubated businesses within its flagship company, to demerge and list them later. Its listed arms currently operate in sectors including ports, power transmission, green energy and food production.

No debt concerns

Analysts’ concerns over its debt accumulation have been dismissed by Singh.

Adani Group’s total gross debt in the financial year ending March 31, 2022, rose 40% to 2.2 trillion rupees. CreditSights, part of the Fitch Group, described the Adani Group last September as “overleveraged” and said it had “concerns” over its debt.

While the report later corrected some calculation errors, CreditSights said it maintained concerns over leverage.

“Nobody has raised debt concerns to us. No single investor has. I am in touch with thousands of high-net worth individuals and 160 institutions and no one has said this,” Singh said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2023.

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