Home / News / India /  ‘Not yet in panic mode but watchful’, top banks respond to Hindenburg on Adani

Day after over 4 lakh crore were washed from Adani account with ripple effect on bank stocks over allegations made by U.S. short-seller Hindenburg Research India's top banks say they are watchful but claim there is nothing alarming as of now.

Leading public sector banks said on Friday their exposure to the Adani Group was within the limits prescribed by the central bank, assuaging fears of default risks from their exposure to the conglomerate. The Reserve Bank of India allows for no more than 25% of a bank's available eligible capital base to be exposed to any one group of connected companies.

Benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty plunged over 1 per cent to close at three-month lows on Friday due to selling in banking, financials, utilities and oil shares triggered by an unfavourable report on Adani group as well as FIIs taking a cautious stance ahead of the Union budget. This resulted in a loss of 7.67 lakh cr investor wealth being washed away due to panic selling.

Key stocks of ports-to-energy conglomerate, helmed by Gautam Adani lost 20% with 6 out of 10 stocks hitting a lower circuit. His 20,000cr follow on offer also received a very muted response.

Public sector banks in India have in the past been hit by massive corporate defaults. Lenders have since taken several measures to clean up their books, but any fresh default by a large corporate could strain their balance sheet.

"There is nothing alarming about our Adani exposure and we don't have any concerns as of now," Dinesh Kumar Khara, chairman of country's largest lender State Bank of India, told Reuters. The Chairman confirmed that the group has not raised any funding from SBI recently, however, the bank will be 'prudent' on any such requests in the future. It has reached out to the company for clarification and the board will take any decision on the bank's exposure to the group only after that, the Reuters quoted an official saying .

An official at state-run Bank of India added that the lender's loans to the Adani group were within permissible limits, while executives at two other private lenders said that they were not yet in "panic mode" but being watchful.

"Our exposure to the Adani Group is below the large exposure framework of the Reserve Bank of India," an executive at the Bank of India said on conditions of anonymity as the details were private.

"Till last month, the Adani Group's interest payment on loans has been intact."

The Union Bank of India was not seeing any stress from their exposure to the conglomerate either, an official at the bank said, also speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter was private.

The Adani Group comprises the flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd, as well as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd, Adani Power Ltd, Adani Green Energy Ltd and Adani Transmission Ltd.

According to Jefferies, the group's debt accounts for 0.5% of total loans across the Indian banking sector. For public sector banks, the debt is at 0.7% of total loans and for private banks, it is at 0.3%.

"We are waiting for more explanation from them and each bank will have to take a call based on what sort of exposure they have on Adani," a senior executive at a private bank, who did not want to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media, said.

(with agency inputs)

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