Researched by: Sara Varghese & Aarthi Ramnath
The Adani debacle: The latest update
The context: The Adani Group unexpectedly scrapped its fully subscribed “follow-on IPO” (FPO) worth $2.5 billion—after its stock price crashed for the sixth consecutive day. The market was responding to a damning report from the short seller Hindenburg Research that accused the company of stock manipulation and accounting fraud. We did a very useful two-parter to help you make sense of this fracas—part one is a guide to the report, while part two looks at the fallout. Here’s what happened yesterday:
- The shares for Adani Enterprises sank an additional 26.5%—while the others suffered a more modest 5-6% dip.
- The panic selling spread to the company’s overseas bonds that dropped to “distressed levels.” Likely cause: Citigroup Wealth followed Credit Suisse’s lead and announced that it would stop accepting the bonds.
- Meanwhile, the government said it has no plan to investigate whether Adani manipulated stock prices—saying that’s the remit of market regulators. The opposition is demanding an investigation either by a parliamentary committee or a special panel supervised by the Chief Justice of India.
- The effects of the scandal are reverberating in London—where Boris Johnson’s brother Jo was forced to retire from the board of a leading Elara Capital. Hindenburg has accused Elara of funnelling money through Mauritius into Adani companies.
- The Reserve Bank of India asked banks to reveal the extent of their exposure to Adani-related risk. State Bank of India has an estimated $2.6 billion sunk into Adani.
- The National Stock Exchange (NSE) placed Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports, and Ambuja Cements under the additional surveillance mechanism (ASM)—which protects their investors from a rout on their stocks. Indian Express has more on what this means.
- The Telegraph offers the best overview. A related good read: Business Today looks at how the cancelled FPO will have an impact on domestic development plans in the country.
Speaking of worrying performances: The big tech companies announced their quarterly results—and none of them are heartening. Alphabet missed its target on earnings and revenue. Apple saw its biggest quarterly revenue drop since 2016. While Amazon beat analyst expectations, it warned of a weak first-quarter forecast.
Breaking out the champagne: Shell. The company reported the highest profit in its 115-year history—raking in $39.9 billion in 2022. War is good for the oil and gas business.
First arrests in Pakistan mosque tragedy
Editor’s note: We somehow missed including this story earlier this week—and are still trying to figure out how we managed to drop this editorial ball.
ICYMI, on Monday, a suicide bombing at a Peshawar mosque spread carnage and fear. The death toll has varied as authorities search through the rubble. Most media reports put it at 100, but CNN claims some bodies were counted twice—and the tally is likely around 80. But the target was unmistakably the police: “The bomber struck as hundreds of worshippers gathered for noon prayers in a mosque that was purpose-built for the police and their families living in a highly fortified zone.”
While no one has claimed credit for the attack, authorities suspect a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban—which is the Pakistani arm of the Taliban and is at war with the government. The police have also arrested several suspects. Point to remember: The last time the Taliban were in power in Kabul, Islamic militancy spread across the border, inspiring bloody terrorist attacks by its Pakistani branch. This recent Al Jazeera report has lots more detail, while Reuters has the latest.
Will you pay for ChatGPT?
Its developer OpenAI certainly hopes so. The company announced a $20/month subscription that puts you ahead of the line during peak hours. It also earns you “faster response times”and “priority access to new features and improvements.” The free version will continue to be available… for now. FYI: the paid service has only been rolled out in the US—and there’s even a waitlist. Imagine Indians waiting in line to pay for something they can get for free… nah! (The Verge)
Found: A DIY mummy kit!
Ok, not quite but we had fun with that headline:) Scientists in Cairo have uncovered 31 ceramic containers from a 600 BC embalming workshop. They even had instructions on how to use them. Until now, we mostly relied on papyrus texts with lists of ingredients—and best guesses about what their modern-day equivalents could be. But here is the really fascinating bit revealed by the ingredients—ancient mummification required global trade:
The scientists also found tropical resins like elemi, which could come from as far as Southeast Asia or the African rainforests, and dammar, also from Southeast Asia. Both are known for their pleasant scents and antibacterial and antifungal properties. "That shows us that basically the industry of embalming was a momentum driving early globalisation forward, because it meant that you really needed to transport these resins over large distances from across Southeast Asia," said [Philipp] Stockhammer.
The original study was published in Nature. We recommend checking out the excellent feature—with photos—by Deutsche Welle instead.
Aussies diss King Charles
The Australian government has decided not to replace the face of Queen Elizabeth with that of her son on its $5 note. It will instead feature a design that “honours the culture and history of the First Australians”—the indigenous communities who were colonised by the Brits. The decision has sparked the usual right vs liberal culture war. Btw, Australians chose to keep the Queen as their monarch in a 1999 referendum. The Anthony Albanese government wants to hold another one at the end of this year. And before you feel sorry for Charles, he will reign supreme on various Aussie coins. (Associated Press)
Air pollution ‘clouds’ Impressionist art
The dreamy haze of an Impressionist painting may actually be smog. A new study looked at nearly 100 paintings by British artist JMW Turner and French artist Claude Monet. Their works span the 19th century Industrial Revolution and serve as handy ‘before’ and ‘after’ images of the air in their respective countries. Here’s what they found:
With increasing air pollution, Turner's work transformed from sharp to hazy contours, saturated to pastel-like colors, and a figurative to impressionistic style. Similar changes were seen in Monet's paintings. Additionally, the model predicted contrast in paintings by Gustave Caillebotte, Camille Pissarro, and Berthe Morisot based on pollution levels in Paris.
Reminder: Both London and Paris were blanketed in smog during the 19th century. The United Kingdom emitted nearly half of global sulphur dioxide emissions from 1800 to 1850. For example, this is a Monet painting from 1867:
And this one was painted some time between 1900 and 1903.
Related read: Art critic Sebastian Smee’s critique of the study—which he says confuses “internal creative choices with external stimuli.” (Washington Post)
Two things to see
One: Journalist Siddiqui Kappan has finally been released on bail after spending 850 days at the Lucknow District Jail. He was arrested in 2020 when travelling in a car with three others to report on the infamous Hathras gangrape (we explained the targeting of journalists in UP here). The police arrested him on sedition charges—and a year later, the Enforcement Directorate charged him with receiving funds from an extremist organisation to incite riots. As with many others, the multiple cases ensured he was kept in jail without bail for a long time. So it was good to see him finally walk out. (Scroll)
Two: Researchers have discovered ‘unicorn fish’ hiding in caves in China. The newly named species—named Sinocyclocheilus longicornus—has a colourless body and tiny whiskers. More importantly, they all sport a signature horn that juts out of their forehead—earning them their name: “Longicornus is derived from two Latin words — longus or “long,” and cornu, which means ‘horn of the forehead’.” No one knows what purpose they serve since the fish live in pitch-dark conditions. But they do give these little creatures a certain je nais se quois, non? (Popular Science)