Gautam Shantilal Adani (born 24 June 1962) is an Indian billionaire industrialist who is the founder and chairman of Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate involved in port development and operations in India.
Adani has been described as being close to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. This has led to allegations of cronyism, as his firms have won many energy and infrastructure contracts in India and abroad after Modi became the Prime Minister of India. In January 2023, following accusations of stock manipulation and fraud by American short selling activist firm Hindenburg Research, Adani’s and his family’s fortune has plummeted by over 50% to an estimated US$50.2 billion, as of March 2023, while falling to the 24th place on the Forbes Real Time Billionaires list.
In 1981, his elder brother Mahasukhbhai Adani bought a plastics unit in Ahmedabad and invited him to manage the operations. This venture turned out to be Adani’s gateway to global trading through polyvinyl chloride (PVC) imports.
In 1985, he started importing primary polymers for small-scale industries. In 1988, Adani established Adani Exports, now known as Adani Enterprises, the holding company of the Adani Group. Originally, the company dealt in agricultural and power commodities.
In 1995, he set up the first jetty. Originally operated by Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone, the operations were transferred to Adani Ports & SEZ (APSEZ). Today, the company is the largest private multi-port operator. Mundra Port is the largest private sector port in India, with the capacity of handling close to 210 million tons of cargo per annum.
In 1996, the power business arm of the Adani Group, Adani Power, was founded by Adani. Adani Power holds thermal power plants with a capacity of 4620MW, the largest private thermal power producer of the country.
In 2002, Adani was arrested by Delhi Police in execution of a non-bailable warrant(NBW), following a cheating complaint by a top of official of M S Shoes. The court withdrew the NBW the next day, after the court was informed that the parties were negotiating for a compromise.
In 2012, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had filed a charge sheet against twelve accused including the Adani for cheating & criminal conspiracy related to purchase and sale of shares. According to SFIO, Adani Agro allegedly provided funds and shares for running illegal activities. A local court in Mumbai discharged Adani & other accused of this case in May, 2014. However, in 2020, a Mumbai sessions court overturned the clean chit to Adani in this case.
In May 2020, Adani won the world’s largest solar bid by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) worth US$6 billion. The 8000MW photovoltaic power plant project will be taken up by Adani Green; Adani Solar will establish 2000MW of additional solar cell and module manufacturing capacity.
In November 2021, while speaking at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum, Adani said the group is investing US$70 billion in a new green energy business. In July 2022, he offered new details on how this investment will be utilized to build three giant factories – solar, electrolyzer (to make green hydrogen), wind turbine plants.
In August 2022, AMG Media Networks Limited (AMNL), a unit of Adani Group, declared that it planned to buy RRPR Holding, owner of 29.18% of national news broadcaster NDTV, and made an open offer to buy a further 26%. In a statement, NDTV said that Adani acquired his stake via a third party without informing the company’s founders, former journalist Radhika Roy and her economist husband Prannoy Roy, and that the deal was done “without discussion, consent or notice.” This bid also raised concern regarding editorial independence in India, since Adani is considered to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. By December 2022, Adani was described as controlling the largest shareholding in NDTV. The Economist said that before Adani bought NDTV, the news channel was “critical of the government but is now supine.”