Will meet Adani Group soon to seek clarification on crisis: LIC Chairman

LIC’s investment in Adani group firm stocks has come under criticism by the Opposition parties as well as investors after U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations

Updated - February 10, 2023 04:35 pm IST

Published - February 10, 2023 01:45 am IST - Mumbai

LIC Chairman M.R. Kumar. File

LIC Chairman M.R. Kumar. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The LIC management will soon meet the top management of the crisis-ridden Adani Group and seek clarification on the crisis being faced by the diversified conglomerate, chairman M.R. Kumar said here on Thursday.

LIC's investment into Adani group firms' stock has come under criticism by the opposition parties as well as investors after U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations against the Gautam Adani-led group, saying its companies manage and manipulate share prices, run offshore shell companies for round-tripping and lacking in corporate governance practices.

"Though our investor team has already sought clarifications from the Adanis, our top management could not contact them yet as we have been busy preparing the results. We are soon going to call them to meet us and explain. We want to understand what is happening in the market and in the group," the chairman told reporters at the earnings conference on Thursday.

"We'll be calling them in sometime soon to know how are they managing the whole crisis," Mr. Kumar added.

Mr. Kumar, however, refused to give a timeline of the meeting between LIC and Adani group officials.

Also Read | Explained | What made the Adani Group call off its FPO?

LIC, which is the nation's largest institutional investor, is the second largest shareholder in most of the listed Adani group companies, with a cumulative investment of ₹36,474.78 crore as of January 27, which in percentage terms is 4.23% of the total public holding in those companies. But for LIC's ₹44.76 lakh crore investment asset under management, this is only 0.97%.

As of January 27, this investment was valued at over ₹56,000 crore, LIC had said on January 30, but since then these shares have further lost—cumulatively about $100 billion or about 60 per cent of their January 24 market value.

When asked, the chairman categorically said, "Our investments are still in the green and we have not made any provisions either for equity, which is the vast majority or for the debt. Our equity holding in the group is 4.23% of the total public holding of those firms. But from our total market investment of ₹44.76 lakh crore, this is only 0.97%" He said the Irdai (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India) norms on investment caps it at 15% of a company's equity, but "we have some exception wherein we hold more than 30% in some companies".

"Why should we be making provision when they are in the green. To some of the group companies (ACC and Ambuja Cements) our investments go back to more than two decades," he said.

On January 30, LIC issued a public statement saying: "Our total holding in the Adani group companies under equity and debt a on date is Rs 36,474.78 crore. This was Rs 35,917.31 crore as of December 31, 2022. Total purchase value of these equities of the group companies, bought over the past many years, is Rs 30,127 crore and the market value for the same at close of market hours on January 27, 2023 was Rs 56,142 crore." LIC has exposure to all the 10 listed Adani group companies. However, it did not disclose about its exposure on an individual company basis.

Even after the Hindenburg report, LIC invested about ₹300 crore in buying 9,15,748 shares in Adani Enterprises' ₹20,000-crore follow-on public offer as an anchor investor.

Mr. Kumar said, the book value of its ₹44.75 lakh crore market asset under management is only ₹6.87 lakh crore, and according to the same book value its exposure to the Adani group companies is only 4.23%.

Since the publication of the Hindenburg report on January 24, three days before the launch of the group's flagship Adani Enterprises' ₹20,000-crore follow-on public offer (FPO), the value of the group companies' stocks have lost more than $100 billion or about 60% from their January 24 value.

The FPO was fully subscribed but called off a day later by the management.

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