A war of words between the ani Group and Hindenburg Research escalated on Monday as shares in some of the Indian conglomerate’s listed companies continued to slide sharply after the New York-based activist investor accused the company of trying to use nationalism as a shield to obfuscate “fraud.”
Just before markets opened in India on Monday, Hindenburg responded to ani Group’s 413-page rebuttal of its allegations by calling out the company’s use of a “nationalist narrative” to conflate its fortunes with “the success of India itself.”
Hindenburg denied ani’s accusation that it had engaged in a breach of securities and foreign exchange laws noting that the company had failed to identify any specific laws that had been breached.
ani Enterprises, the group’s flagship firm, saw its shares rise by 9% on Monday before dropping into the red in early afternoon trading—shares of the group’s six other major listed firms saw sharper declines.
ani Total Gas, ani Transmission and ani Green Energy stocks were the worst hit dropping by 20% while shares of ani Power and food company ani Wilmar were down 5%.
In a 413-page response to Hindenburg’s original allegations issued on Sunday, the ani Group said 65 of the 88 questions had been addressed in public disclosures.
The conglomerate also alleged that the Hindenburg report was driven by “an ulterior motive” to “create a false market in securities” that would allow the short seller to “book massive financial gain through wrongful means.”
In a likely bid to assuage domestic investors and gain public support in India, ani’s statement attempted to portray Hindenburg’s allegation as an attack on India. The statement said: “This is not merely an unwarranted attack on any specific company but a calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and the growth story and ambition of India.” A video released by the company last week where ani Group CFO Jugeshinder Singh addresses some of the allegations came under some criticism from opposition parties in India. Questions were raised as to why Singh’s address was made in front of an Indian flag instead of a company banner or logo. The group’s founder Gautam ani is believed to be close to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who’s party has often pushed back on foreign criticism of his government by trying to paint them as an attack on India.
In a scathing response to ani’s argument that its report was an attack on India, Hindenburg said: “To be clear, we believe India is a vibrant democracy and an emerging superpower with an exciting future. We also believe India’s future is being held back by the ani Group, which has draped itself in the Indian flag while systematically looting the nation.”
According to our estimates, Gautam ani’s net worth currently stands at $85.7 billion, making him the world’s ninth richest person. On Monday alone, ani’s net worth has shrunk by $11 billion as the market selloff of some of his listed companies continued. Since Hindenburg’s report became public, ani has fallen from third place in list of the world’s richest and has shed $41 billion from his total net worth.
In its 413-page rebuttal against Hindenburg’s allegations, the ani Group labeled the activist investor as the “Madoffs of Manhattan.” In a cheeky footnote added to its response on Monday, Hindenburg said: “ani seems unaware that Madoff lived in Manhattan, so he was quite literally his own Madoff of Manhattan.”
Gautam ani Slips From Top 5 Richest As His Net Worth Plummets After ‘Corporate Con’ Accusations (Forbes)
ani Group Weighs Legal Action Against Hindenburg After Listed Shares Take Major Hit (Forbes)