The Adani Group does not own cement companies Ambuja Cements and its subsidiary ACC Limited even though it had announced in September the acquisition of the two firms, The Morning Context reported on Monday, citing documents related to the deals.
The group reportedly used a special purpose vehicle named Endeavour Trade and Investment Limited to acquire the two companies from the Switzerland-based Holcim Group. Special purpose vehicles are subsidiaries created with specific or temporary objectives, whose assets and liabilities are distinct from the parent company.
The ultimate beneficial owners of Endeavour Trade and Investment are “Mr Vinod Shantilal Adani and Mrs Ranjanben Vinod Adani”, The Morning Context report said, citing the final offer letter issued by Ambuja Cements.
Vinod Adani is the elder brother of Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani.
The Adani Group has been at the centre of controversy since January 24, when United States-based short seller Hindenburg Research alleged that the group amassed substantial debt by pledging overvalued shares and that it engaged in “brazen stock manipulation”.
Hindenburg Research alleged that Vinod Adani is responsible for creating and managing a vast network of offshore entities meant for stock parking, market manipulation and laundering money, to help the conglomerate’s companies maintain their appearance of healthy financials.
In its response to the allegations, the Adani Group had said that Vinod Adani “does not hold any managerial position in any Adani listed entities or their subsidiaries and has no role in their day to day affairs”.
However, Vinod Adani is on the board of a Mauritius-based company named Acropolis Trade and Investment Limited, according to The Morning Context. Acropolis is the promoter of a company named Xcent Trade and Investment Limited, which owns Endeavour Trade and Investment, the report said.
The offer letter for the acquisition states that in the financial year 2021-’2022, neither Endeavour not Xcent had any income, but registered losses of $25,980 (Rs 21.39 lakh) each. In 2020-21, Acropolis reported $6.99 billion (Rs 51,400 crore) in profits even though it had “minuscule expenses”, The Morning Context reported.
Acropolis is owned by Dubai-based firm Adani Global Investment DMCC, which had been set up in 2016. Adani Global Investment DMCC’s manager is said to be Vinod Adani, and the company is owned by AR Global Holding Limited, a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands – a tax haven country.
AR Global Holding, on its part, is owned by the Amulya Resources Family Trust, whose beneficial owners are Vinod Adani and Ranjanaben Adani. Ambuja Cements’ final offer letter included a chart mentioning the entities that are behind Endeavour Trade and Investment.
In August 2022, the Competition Commission of India said that Endeavour “is a newly incorporated company and belongs to the Adani Group”.
Commenting on the allegations, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Priyanka Chaturedi asked why there was no Enforcement Directorate investigation in this regard.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said that the allegations constitute “deception of the highest order”.
The Opposition has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government of extending favours to the Adani Group in securing number of business deals and has called for an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
Since the release of the report by Hindenburg Research, listed firms of the Adani Group have lost a total of nearly $145 billion in market capitalisation. While the conglomerate has rejected the allegations, its responses have failed to halt the stock market bloodbath.