If you’ve invested in a company associated with the Adani group, you’re probably watching the stock market like a hawk. For the second day running, share prices of nine listed companies of the group have tanked, with the group losing nearly in market capitalisation.
All this after US-based short seller, Hindenburg Research, accused the Adani group of pulling the “largest con in corporate history” by engaging in “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” over the course of two decades. Hindenburg’s report is the result of two years of investigations comprising interviews with dozens of people, reviewing thousands of documents, and conducting diligence visits in almost half a dozen countries.
The Adani group called the report “maliciously mischievous and unresearched” and said it was evaluating legal action. Hindenburg said it would and suggested that the Adani group file suit in the US.
Media groups lined up to put out carefully-worded news reports on what went down. All eyes were on NDTV, acquired by the Adani group last year.
But NDTV and its properties maintained a studied silence on the entire Hindenburg-Adani controversy from January 25 until the afternoon of January 27, when it published two PTI reports (see and ). The first was the group’s stocks falling after the allegations were made, the second on the Congress party demanding a “serious investigation”.
There was nothing else at the time of publishing this story. In the past, NDTV entities such as NDTV Profit, Gadgets 360 and Car and Bike reported on Hindenburg Research’s findings about , and .
What about BQ Prime, in whose parent company Adani is acquiring a stake?
reported on the Adani group “rejecting” the report, on the Adani group considering legal action. was on “record Adani share sale” going through despite the allegations, and on the Adani group’s “point-by-point rebuttal of Hindenburg report”. An said a short seller sitting in New York may not have “unique insight into the intricate workings of developing nations”. This list is not exhaustive.
Most stories had the following disclaimer: “Adani Enterprises is in the process of acquiring a 49 percent stake in Quintillion Business Media, the owner of BQ Prime.”
We also looked at the coverage by prominent business newspapers in India.
Business Standard carried the Hindenburg report as its top story on page 1 on January 26. It featured the key allegations, the Adani group’s response, and the subsequent fall in market value of the group’s listed firms. The following day, page 1 had a “brief” on how Adani may sue Hindenburg, with a detailed story about it on page 3.
On January 26, the front page of Economic Times led with Adani raising Rs 5,985 crore from anchor investors ahead of its follow-on public offer. A snippet on the page dealt with the group’s shares tumbling. A detailed story found place on page 8. The following day, a page 5 story in ET was on the group’s threat of legal action, while page 3 was devoted to the Adani group’s FPO.
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Mint on January 26 had a “quick edit” on its jacket. Titled “Adani’s choice”, it explained the Hindenburg report, how it impacted shares, and the Adani group’s response. It also said a probe would establish whether or not the report was “ill-motivated” and that it’s a “job for experts” to “pinpoint wrongdoing”.
The “quick edit” ended by saying that a fast-rising business empire should expect increased scrutiny, and that its transparency must rise accordingly. “The Adani group faces a choice,” it said. “And it’s best if it opts to come out with point by point rebuttals.”
On January 27, Mint had a snippet on page 1 about Hindenburg “welcoming” legal action from the Adani group. A detailed report followed on page 4, with reportage on the FPO too.
Newslaundry could not access the January 26 print edition of the Hindu Businessline though its website on that day carried multiple stories on the Hindenburg affair (see , , and ).
The edition on January 27 had a snippet on page 1 about the Adani group mulling legal action. A longer story on page 2 described the group being “deeply disturbed” and also the “market mayhem” that played out. Page 5 had a full-page ad on the Adani group’s FPO.
Finally, Financial Express’s page 1 on January 26 led with the Adani-Hindenburg affair. A smaller story was devoted to the FPO, with more details on page 9.
On January 27, the lead story on page 1 was on Adani mulling legal action. Page 4 reported on what legal options were open to the Adani group – such as suits for defamation or damages, and to approach SEBI – with quotes from lawyers. A separate report was on CLSA assessing that state-owned lenders have “material exposure” to the Adani group.
Interestingly, Financial Express also published a letter to the editor saying the Hindenburg report was “designed to create maximum damage”. Yet “there is something very wrong about the founder of the Adani group that is not quite kosher”.
On television, the Hindenburg-Adani controversy was covered by channels such as CNBC-TV18, ET Now, Business Today, Zee Business, Wion, and Times Now. Discussions were also held by on India Today and Siddarth Zarabi on Business Today.
The usual suspects – Sudhir Chaudhary, Arnab Goswami, Aman Chopra and Navika Kumar – skipped these discussions on their primetime shows.
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