The Adanis have found a foreign friend who is not as “old” as George Soros — one of the criteria laid down by India’s foreign minister for identifying well wishers. Naor Gilon, Israel’s ambassador to India, on Wednesday expressed confidence that the Adani group’s troubles in the wake of the Hindenburg Research report would not affect the development of the Haifa Port.
Gilon said that handing over the strategic asset to an Indian company was a sign of “deep trust”. “This (port) is the core business of Adani. He knows what to do and it benefits both Adani, Israel and India...,” the ambassador added.
At 59, the ambassador is decidedly younger than Soros, 92, who has been called “old, rich, opinionated and dangerous” by foreign minister S. Jaishankar. The billionaire had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would “have to answer questions” from foreign investors and Parliament on the allegations against the Adani group and suggested that the controversy might weaken Modi’s “stranglehold” on the government and facilitate a “democratic revival” in India.
Ambassador Gilon is probably better known than Soros among Modi’s supporters. The envoy had taken it upon himself to slam Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid for calling The Kashmir Files a “propaganda” and “vulgar movie” at the International Film Festival of India in Goa.
But that had not prevented Gilon from being at the receiving end of a message praising Hitler. On Wednesday, bringing up the Haifa Port while briefing the media to mark 30 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, Gilon said: “I think it was a very important move from our point of view.”
Pointing out that the Haifa Port is one of the two ports of Israel with the military, he said: “It is from our point of view a sign of deep trust in depositing our strategic assets in the hands of Indian companies.”
Israel handed over the Haifa Port to an Adani groupled consortium last month, coinciding with the storm unleashed by the Hindenburg Research report. The consortium of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) and Israel’s Gadot Group won the tender to privatise the Haifa Port for $1.18 billion.
The Adani group holds a 70 per cent stake in the consortium. Underscoring the fact that ports are the Adani group’s “bread and butter”, Gilon said: “They have the potential to make the Haifa Port the port it needs to be and to increase trade in the region, trade between India and Israel.”
On whether Israel has apprehensions about the Adani group being able to finance the development of the Haifa Port on schedule given its recent troubles, the ambassador pointed out that they had paid up in full the cost and the port already had the money for the purpose.