Super Seven

The alchemist

The Adani group founder who built a trading conglomerate from scratch wants to keep playing for high stakes

Soumik Kar

Every man has his weaknesses, even if he is one of India’s richest men. And who will know it better than his wife? “Though he doesn’t have any favourites, Gautam just can’t resist good food,” smiles Priti Adani. But Gautam Adani’s appetite is not confined to just gastronomical pursuits, it’s amply visible in his business too. And that largely explains how a one-time small trader today straddles a business empire with interests in resources, logistics and energy. From ₹674 crore in FY95, group revenues, comprising the listed trading, ports and power businesses, have surged over ₹47,000 crore as of FY13, a CAGR of 27% in 18 years. The breakneck growth, though, has come on the back of a gigantic leap in leverage within the group over the same period: from ₹33 crore to around ₹49,000 crore — which investors are jittery about. Not surprisingly, the market cap of Adani Enterprises, Adani Power and Adani Ports & SEZ has tanked by 74%, 67% and 17%, respectively, since November 2010 (when the Sensex hit a closing high of 21,000) as the economic slowdown, coal supply and tariff issues, environmental controversies and concerns over the progress of overseas mining assets came to a boil.