Billionaire Gautam Adani’s group pledged shares valued at about $13 billion in two Indian cement firms just days after it completed the acquisition from Holcim Ltd., reflecting the world’s second-richest person’s hunger for capital as his ports-to-power conglomerate expands rapidly.
Stakes in two of those companies - about 57% of ACC Ltd. and 63% in Ambuja Cements Ltd. - have been encumbered “for the benefit of certain lenders and other finance parties,” according to separate filings made to Indian stock exchanges by Deutsche Bank AG’s Hong Kong branch.
The pledge comes as the tycoon’s ambitious dealmaking in an array of new sectors from green energy to media raises concerns over the high level of debt across the Adani group. While the conglomerate has moved to curtail some pledges across its listed entities, other units continue to have elevated leverage ratios that stand out among peer companies globally.
The buyouts from Holcim earlier this year marked Adani’s entry into the cement business and the tycoon plans to double his company’s annual capacity by 2027 following the deal that’s made his conglomerate India’s second-largest producer of the construction material.
The acquisitions give Adani Group access to about 110 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) of cash with the two listed companies, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc. Along with a 200 billion rupee fund infusion from their new owners, the combined entity has enough of a “war chest to scale up new expansions, organically or inorganically,” Prateek Kumar, a Jefferies analyst, wrote in a note on Monday.
Based on Monday’s close, the encumbered stake in ACC and Ambuja is valued at $13 billion. Endeavour Trade and Investment Ltd. and Xcent Trade and Investment Ltd., entities linked to the Adani Group, are part of the agreements under which the shares have been pledged. In August, Endeavour Trade received approval from India’s antitrust agency for the acquisition of a stake in Holderind Investments Ltd., a Mauritius-based holding company of Holcim’s India unit.Adani’s move into cement and the recent easing of commodity prices has led to a rally in cement stocks in India. ACC and Ambuja shares have surged 29% and 60% since Holcim’s sale was announced in May.