Investors needed to hear a convincing response from the Adani Group after the Indian conglomerate was accused of fraud and market manipulation by US short-selling firm Hindenburg Research. Given what has happened since – the company has lost more than $100 billion in market capitalisation – it’s fair to say they didn’t get one.
Instead, investors got what Hindenburg accurately described as a “bloated” 413-page response. It included irrelevant waffle about the company’s apparent social credentials, even detailing three case studies focused on female entrepreneurship and the creation of safe vegetables through kitchen garden projects. Even more unconvincing was Adani’s playing of the nationalist card. Hindenburg’s report represented “an attack on India”. We got a video of Adani’s chief financial officer standing near the Indian national flag.
Adani’s share price rout was compared to an infamous massacre of Indian citizens by forces working for Britain in 1919. On Twitter, noted Hindenburg’s Nate Anderson, there were hundreds of pro-Adani messages that just happened to have the same spelling error (”nation” was spelled “natioin”). It was cheap, amateurish and unconvincing, as was Adani’s description of Hindenburg as the “Madoffs of Manhattan”. Adani “seems unaware that Madoff lived in Manhattan”, Hindenburg responded, “so he was quite literally his own Madoff of Manhattan.”