MUMBAI: Investors dumped more Adani stock on Monday as India’s opposition staged protests calling for a full inquiry into allegations of major accounting fraud at the country’s biggest conglomerate.

The group owned by tycoon Gautam Adani has lost around $120 billion in value since the claims were levelled by short-seller US investment group Hindenburg Research on January 24. Trading in Adani Total Gas, in which French oil giant TotalEnergies owns a 37.4-per cent stake, and in Adani Power was again suspended on Monday after the stocks fell five per cent.

The slide has raised concerns about the group’s ability to raise fresh financing to pay down its debts. It cancelled a share sale, and reportedly also a bond issue, last week.

Adani said Monday it was prepaying loans worth $1.1 billion, taken against shares for three of its companies, ahead of their maturity in September 2024. Analysts said the move was meant to reassure investors.

The announcement came as The Economic Times newspaper reported that Britain’s Standard Chartered had joined Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse and Citigroup in the United States in halting the acceptance of Adani bonds as collateral for loans it advances to private banking clients.

The main opposition Congress party, which has called for a “serious investigation” into Adani’s companies by the central bank and regulator, on Monday staged protests, including in New Delhi and Mumbai.

The party says that Gautam Adani’s close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also from Gujarat state, allowed him to win contracts unfairly and to avoid proper oversight.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023

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