Gautam Adani, Chairman, Adani Group says that India is another name of hope on the world stage.
New Delhi: In a wide-ranging interview, Gautam Adani, Chairman, Adani Group, talks about India, politics, the Adani Group and Adani Foundation. Excerpts:
Q: Tell us about your journey in which adding millions and billions of dollars every day are now starting to look like a routine.
A: From one point of view, it is just statistics, and it is certainly not our aim to get confused by it. It is important that the work you are doing is useful for society and the country. Being an Indian, I feel that for some time now, there is a feeling in the whole of India that we should lift our nation from a developing to a developed category. In achieving this goal, it can be considered that, among the efforts being made for this objective, our group also has made a small contribution.
Q: Your critics say that all this has been possible because of your closeness with Prime Minister Modiji. Your comments.
A: Those who criticize like this neither know Modiji nor his capabilities. Their criticism is probably because I am from Gujarat and Narendra Modiji had been the Chief Minister of Gujarat for 12 years. I know as well as others do that he is completely fair and honest. The truth is that because of his policies, first in Gujarat and now in the country, a favorable environment has been created for doing business and all sectors of businesses benefited from it. The country and the states have benefitted too. As far as the issue of personal gain is concerned, my group’s work is also spread across all the non-BJP ruled states of the country like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, etc. These states are ruled by different parties. We are working with those governments also.
Q: There is also a big criticism that the debt burden on the companies of your group is such that if the bubble bursts, the banks would be in big trouble.
A: You have asked a very good question. You know that companies working in the field of infrastructure development require a lot of money. They take loans. Now if the loan is for a longer period, available on good terms, and you are able to grow very quickly with that money, then this is a good strategy. In the last 9 years, the debt in our Group has grown at the rate of 11% and the earnings doubled at the rate of 22%. So, tell me, isn’t this a great strategy? This is the reason why in these 9 years, the share prices of my companies have increased very fast and investors and shareholders have got huge profits. Another important point is that in the last 9 years, the ratio of debt to debt servicing income—called EBIDTA—has come down by almost 50%. It is also worth mentioning that during the same period, the share of government and private banks in providing loans has come down from 84% to just 33%, that is, a decline of about 60%. These figures make it clear that all these allegations are baseless.
Q: You claim to be making the biggest green energy company, but you also have a huge coal business. Some time back you also acquired coal mines in Australia.
A: Personally, I am a staunch supporter of green energy, but the ground reality is that we still need thermal power projects for India’s energy security. But gradually fossil fuel-based energy will be replaced by green energy and soon, green and clean energy will become the primary source of energy security in the country. Until then, fossil fuels will also have a role to play in this era of transition. Hence, our long-term business is for clean and green energy.
Q: The start-up culture is growing rapidly in the country. What advice do you have for those who aspire to launch start-ups?
A: There are no shortcuts in life. Dreams come true only when you have full faith in your dreams and work hard to fulfil them. The cycle of success and failure is a part of life. Don’t be afraid or cowed down by failure.
Q: Have we fully recovered from the crisis that followed the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war?
A: Remember, at the time of the pandemic, did anyone expect such a successful vaccination program? Did it appear easy to emerge from the economic crisis after the lockdown? It seemed as if the healthcare infrastructure would completely collapse. But did anything like this happen? After the Russia-Ukraine war started, there is an energy crisis all over the world, a food crisis, a financial crisis, and inflation, but our country has been spared from all these problems. This is proof of the strength of the country’s economy. Foreign investors are queuing up to invest money. The manufacturing sector is about to take off as the infrastructure required for it is ready. We are already ahead of many others in the service sector. Now many international companies are coming to India for production. India is another name of hope on the world stage. India has got the chairmanship of the G-20. Being Indians, we all can appreciate this change.
Q: Some people see your acquisition of NDTV as an attempt to curb press freedom.
A: The entry of the corporate world into the media, and the expansion of media into other businesses, have been happening for years. Not only in India, but all over the world. But since Gautam Adani is doing it, there is bound to be noise. I have already clarified that the NDTV has been acquired as a social responsibility, not to earn profit. There are very good media groups in India, but I want to build NDTV an international-level brand. NDTV is a very good brand and has all the qualities a good brand should have. What is needed is the right thinking, strategy, and technical, financial, and human resources through which NDTV can achieve a global status in line with its capabilities. I would also like to mention that the CEOs of all my companies are independent and I have no interference whatsoever in their day-to-day functioning. My role is limited to strategizing. In NDTV’s case too, there will be a very clear Lakshman Rekha between the owners and the editorial.