‘No pressure, deal was simple, straightforward’: GVK vice chairman refutes Rahul Gandhi’s allegation on Mumbai airport sale to Adani

“The deal was very simple, very straightforward. We did not have a lot of conditions, the time frame was very specific so that we could conclude it quickly and take care of the lenders, which was the top priority. And he also gave comfort to the lenders by saying he will do this fast so they need not worry. So my dealing with him has been excellent, GV Sanjay Reddy of the GVK Group said on the Adani deal.

On Tuesday, the vice-chairman of the conglomerate GVK, GV Sanjay Reddy refuted the allegations made by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi who said that the government had tweaked rules in favour of Adani Group and that the provision prohibiting the participation of those lacking experience in airport development was repealed. Refusing the accusation, Reddy said that the Mumbai Airport deal was executed with absolutely no pressure from the Adani Group or anyone else.

“Our company was looking at fundraising because in our airport holding company, we had raised debt nearly 10 years ago when we acquired Bengaluru airport and that debt was becoming due. Gautam (Adani) bhai approached me and he said he has a lot of interest in Mumbai airport and whether we are willing to do a transaction with him at the same terms and conditions – the only difference being that he said he will ensure he will conclude the entire transaction in one month, which was very important for us.

He added that before Gautam Adani approached, the company was talking to other investors who had agreed to deal with the company, but they had many conditions. “Then we were hit by Covid. For three months, the airport business was shut and we had zero revenue. It put more financial pressure on us, and so we were trying to work with them to complete the transaction quickly. But it was not happening. It is around that time that Gautam Bhai approached to deal with GVK,” the vice-chairman said. Adani Airport Holdings Ltd took over Mumbai airport from GVK in July 2021.

Rahul Gandhi, who led the opposition’s attack on the Adani-Hindenburg controversy in the Lok Sabha, said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election was to blame for Gautam Adani’s meteoric rise and claimed that after 2014, “magic” actually happened that spurred the businessman from 609th to second place on the world’s wealthiest list. “Their relationship began many years ago when Narendra Modi Ji was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. And when most of India’s business was asking questions to the Prime Minister, one man stood shoulder to shoulder with him”, Rahul Gandhi said referring to Adani.

Regarding the specific claim made by Gandhi in the Parliament that GVK was coerced into selling Mumbai Airport to the Adani Group, Reddy said that the deal was executed because GVK was in need of the deal. “We had to repay lenders and there was no pressure from anybody else at all. As far as other aspects of what is being said in parliament, I would not like to comment as I would not like to get into the politics on it,” he added.

Reddy meanwhile also praised Gautam Adani and said that he deals directly without anybody’s assistance. “The deal was very simple, very straightforward. We did not have a lot of conditions, the time frame was very specific so that we could conclude it quickly and take care of the lenders, which was the top priority. And he also gave comfort to the lenders by saying he will do this fast so they need not worry. So my dealing with him has been excellent, with no issues at all. Whatever was committed, whatever was understanding, we kept it up, we concluded,” reddy stated further.

Rahul Gandhi yesterday in the Parliament claimed that the Centre changed a few rules and developmental projects of six airports were given to the Adani Group. He said that the GVK was forced by the CBI and ED and the Indian government to put the Mumbai Airport in Adani’s hands. Additionally, he criticised Adani Group for its ‘interest’ in the defence industry and raised questions about how it came to be awarded contracts to make drones while having no prior experience.

Further, he claimed that the Adani Group received contracts to develop wind farms in Sri Lanka and deliver electricity in Bangladesh as part of a “foreign policy” to expand Adani’s empire. Rahul Gandhi also mentioned a report by Hindenburg Research linking the Adani Group’s use of shell companies in Mauritius to national security and asked how much Adani had invested in the BJP in bonds as he wrapped off his speech.

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