Jan 30, 2023
Activists Ask Bondholders to Stop Funding Adani’s Coal Empire
(Bloomberg) -- An activist organization is asking bond investors to stop funding Adani Group unless the beleaguered Indian conglomerate “unequivocally halts its coal expansion” and adopts a plan to cut carbon emissions.
In October, Billionaire Gautam Adani’s group was looking to raise at least $10 billion in new debt in 2023 to help refinance high-cost borrowings and fund projects in the pipeline, Bloomberg reported in October. But its debt has come under intense scrutiny following a report by short seller Hindenburg Research, fixing investor attention in the months ahead on a string of bond interest deadlines.
Adani Group didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
SumOfUs, an activist group that runs digital campaigns intended to apply pressure to powerful corporations, sent a letter to executives at some of the largest bond buyers — including BlackRock Inc., Pacific Investment Management Co. and Invesco Ltd. — urging them not to participate in new bond deals from the group and to divest from Adani firms. Adani’s empire, largely built on coal mining, “has come at the cost of human rights violations and environmental destruction,” they said.
“The interconnected financial nature of the Adani Group makes it clear that buying debt from any subsidiary of Adani, is by extension supporting Adani’s mining businesses,” the activist group said in a letter signed by Nick Haines, a campaign manager at SumOfUs.
Adani’s wide-ranging group was built on a bedrock of coal, and it continues to be central to his business. But the billionaire wants to recast the empire into a renewable energy giant. The conglomerate has committed to invest a total $70 billion by 2030 across its green energy value chain to become the world’s largest renewable energy producer.
Adani group’s borrowing plans include issuing green bonds, whose proceeds are used to fund environmentally-friendly projects. Hindenburg’s findings undermine any confidence investors could have that proceeds from the green deal “would be adequately ringfenced,” Toxic Bonds said in the letter reviewed by Bloomberg.
SumOfUs is a member of Toxic Bonds initiative, a network of civil society organizations that helps track and stop the trillions of dollars of risky debt financing the climate crisis.
It’s “inconceivable” that major Adani bondholders would touch new debt from Adani, which has been shown to flout all three pillars of ESG with coal expansion, human rights violations and now fraud, Alice Delemare, coordinator of Toxic Bonds initiative, said in an emailed response to questions on Monday.
Adani’s $70 billion pledge isn’t meaningful compared with Adani’s rapidly growing coal operations, according to the Toxic Bond initiative.
“Adani cannot claim to be committed to transition whilst planning new coal mines and thermal power projects,” they wrote.
Read more: Asia’s Richest Man Sells the World a Green Dream Built on Coal
--With assistance from P R Sanjai.
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