Nothing but truth?

Asia's richest man has said he received no personal favors from Narendra Modi

Gautam Adani said his company gained from the policy decisions of other prime ministers, too
Asia's richest man has said he received no personal favors from Narendra Modi
Image: Amit Dave (Reuters)
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The world’s third richest person has denied allegations that prime minister Narendra Modi had bestowed any personal favors on him or his business.

Gautam Adani, chairman of India’s Adani Group, even said Modi does not favor anyone “personally.”

“... It was great when Modi was the chief minister [of Guajrat] for 12 years, but I want to tell you that you cannot take any personal help from him [Modi]. You can talk to him about policy, discuss the interest of the country, but the policy made is for everyone, not for the Adani group alone,” the 60-year-old said on India TV’s Aap ki Adalat show.

To drive home his point, Adani earlier said his business had gained from policy decisions of other leaders, too, including those of the Indian National Congress which is bitterly opposed to Modi’s Bharatiya Janaya Party (BJP).

“I got three big breaks in my life. The first break came in 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister and a new import-export policy came. Our company became a global trading house. The second break came in 1991 when PV Narasimha Rao was PM. We could do public private partnership under Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh. This gave a new direction to the infrastructure in the country,” he said.

Defending himself against allegations of crony capitalism, he shared details of projects that are thriving in non-BJP-ruled states of India.

“Adani Group is happy that it is working today in 22 states and that not all of them are BJP-ruled,” he said. “We are working with the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, with Mamata didi [sister] in Bengal, with Naveen Patnaikji [Odisha], YS Jaganmohan Reddy [Andhra Pradesh], KCR [K Chandrashekar Rao in Telangana]...”

Adani, whose businesses and personal wealth have seen a meteoric rise under India’s current government, has often faced allegations of gaining undue advantage from his close relationship with Modi. The prime minister’s critics have claimed that the Adani group is often allowed to circumvent rules and is often put in advantageous positions through government policy.

They are worried that such spectacular growth in Adani companies’ market value may create wealth bubbles, jeopardizing the Indian economy itself.

Gautam Adani says nobody’s money is at risk

Addressing such concerns, the billionaire said investors’ money was “at no risk” even though some critics might want such wealth bubbles created.

“Adani’s total assets are three or four times more than its debt... As long as India continues to move forward, this balloon will continue to move forward,” he told the TV channel.

In fiscal 2022, the Adani Group had a net debt of nearly $20 billion. Rating agencies and financial experts have frequently warned of risks that could result in the group falling into a debt trap.

The group released a 15-page note (pdf) last year saying its net debt-to-EBITDA ratio had declined to 3.2 from 7.6 over the past nine years. This measure shows a company’s total financial obligations, including debt and other liabilities. A debt-to-EBITDA ratio of less than 3 is considered healthy. The lower the ratio, the higher the probability of the firm successfully paying off its debt.