Two Adani Group firms to raise up to $2.57 billion from the market

By Aftab Ahmed and Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Two Adani group companies including the Indian conglomerate's flagship firm announced plans on Saturday to raise up to $2.57 billion from the market, months after a short-seller report battered investor confidence and drove share prices down.

India's Adani Transmission said its board approved a plan to raise up to 85 billion rupees ($1.0 billion) from the stock market. Adani Enterprise said in a filing to exchanges that its board had approved plans to raise up to 125 billion Indian rupees ($1.53 billion) through similar modes.

The equity fundraising is Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's first real test of broad investor appetite since he called off a record $2.5 billion share sale in January following allegations by U.S-based Hindenburg Group of stock market manipulation and use of tax havens.

U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg Group's January report battered investor confidence and drove share prices of the group down.

Adani has denied Hindenburg's claims even as India's market regulator is probing the allegations as well as Adani group's related-party dealings following a Supreme Court directive.

"The fact that they have announced it implies to me that the funding has been locked up," said Varun Khandelwal, director at Bullero Capital, a New Delhi-based proprietary trading firm. "This will help them reduce pledges and it’s a show of strength."

Adani Transmission and Adani Enterprise said in separate statements they planned to raise the funds via selling equity shares through qualified institutional placements or other permissible modes.

Adani Green Energy Ltd, which was also expected to announce similar funding plans, on Friday rescheduled its board meeting to May 24.

In March, U.S-based investment firm GQG Partners invested $1.87 billion across Adani Enterprise, Ports, Transmission and Green Energy via secondary market deals.

Adani Group shares have risen in recent months, although they remain far below the highs they touched before Hindenburg's report.

Adani Enterprise's January-March profit doubled from a year earlier to $88 million, helped by a strong performance at its key coal trading division.

($1 = 81.7800 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Aditya Kalra; Editing by William Mallard)