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regular-article-logo Friday, 14 June 2024

Hindenburg attack was to politically defame India's governance practices: Gautam Adani

'Despite the efforts to shake our foundations, we stood firm, not just safeguarding our reputation but also ensuring we remained focused on our operations'

PTI Mumbai Published 14.03.24, 04:55 PM
Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani PTI

US short-seller Hindenburg Research's damning report against the Adani group was not just to destabilise the apples-to-airport conglomerate but to also politically defame India's governance practices, said Gautam Adani, chairman of Adani Group.

In January last year, Hindenburg published a report alleging malfeasance by the Adani Group. The allegations included cooking books of accounts, over-invoicing of import costs and round-tripping of own money to push up share prices. Adani Group denied all allegations and won relief from the Supreme Court this year when judges ruled that it does not need to face additional investigation.

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The report set off an over USD 150 billion selloff in the conglomerate's stocks and led Gautam Adani - who was listed as the world's second richest at the start of 2023 - to slip out of the top 20. The stocks have since recovered most of the losses.

At a private event here, Adani reflected on his life journey, recalling the opportunities he got and the challenges he faced.

"Last year on January 24, we were subject to a massive attack by a US short seller. The objective was not just to destabilise us but also to politically defame India's governance practices," he said.

"Despite the efforts to shake our foundations, we stood firm, not just safeguarding our reputation but also ensuring we remained focused on our operations." While Adani group stocks were shorted, the episode had several learnings. "This episode also gave us confidence in our own resilience. Our recovery highlights the essence of bouncing back stronger, symbolising the spirit of rising after every fall," he said.

A school drop-out, Adani started out as a commodities trader and rose to become Asia's richest person with an empire spanning across ports, power generation, airports, mining, renewables, gas, data centres, media and cement.

"Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and being ok with sometimes getting lost, sometimes falling - but every time I was lost - every time I fell - I was still able to find my way back - I was still able to get up. I never feared falling," he said.

Summing his life journey in five principles, he said all success will come with its challenges and its challengers. "The greater your success, the bigger will you be as a target." "Number 2, we live in a complex world and it's easy to be sold on the theory of simplicity," he said.

"While simplicity may be the goal, it is the ability to manage the complexity that will differentiate you and make you the ones that can navigate the deep waters as against those that remain on the shallow shores." Adani said the businesses he built were far more difficult than anticipated and over the years, he has become wiser.

"Number 3, the dynamic model of a fast-growing nation like ours requires a flexible approach that is rooted in local models as against models that often emphasise specialisation and core competencies," he said, adding the crux of strategic differentiation often lies in recognising the limitations of bookish knowledge and western-centric models.

Starting with coal trading, the group was guided towards port development. This foundational move served as a springboard into the power generation sector. Recognising the interconnections of these sectors, it ventured into power transmission, subsequently leading to expansion into distribution networks.

The progression didn't stop there as it continued further into power-intensive industries and cutting-edge technology sectors, including data centres, and diversified energy portfolio into LNG and LPG businesses.

"Number 4, resilience often requires the ability to withstand criticism. The higher you rise, the more you will need to prepare yourself to handle criticism," Adani said, adding that one must be willing to be misunderstood, and yet stay resilient.

Lastly, stay humble. "Your own success will push back on your humility. But humility is the biggest differentiator you can build," he said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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