In early August, Adani Wilmar joined the initial public offering (IPO) frenzy by filing for a Rs 4,500 crore ($610 million) issue.

This makes India’s largest edible oils manufacturer the seventh Adani Group company to make a beeline for the public markets, and the third since June 2018. Adani Wilmar, a 50:50 joint venture between the ports-to-data centres Adani Group and the Singapore-based agribusiness group Wilmar International, owns the Fortune brand of edible oils, wheat flour, and basmati rice, among others. The company is reportedly reportedly CNBC TV18 Adani Wilmar files papers for Rs 4,500 crore IPO Read more targeting a valuation of $5-6 billion.

Two weeks after the IPO filing, markets regulator Sebi put the share sale on hold. While Sebi did not give reasons for the same, it could have been because of its investigation investigation The Hindu Sebi, DRI probing Adani companies Read more of some Adani Group companies over non-compliance with its regulations. Sebi typically puts IPO filings on hold when there is an enquiry or regulatory action pending against the company in question, its promoters, directors, or group entities. And it usually takes between 30 and 135 days to decide on the same, according to Sebi’s rules.

This hiccup is neither rare nor necessarily fatal. Even the IPO applications of the airline Go First and the mutual fund house Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC were put on hold in June. Both received Sebi’s greenlight two months later.

Even with the uncertainty that currently hangs over Adani Wilmar’s IPO, the share sale still remains an important marker. It is only the company’s latest step towards becoming a bonafide FMCG company. Despite its diversification into foods in 2013, over 80% of Adani Wilmar’s revenue in the year ended March 2021 came from edible oils. But that’s clearly not the narrative Adani Wilmar wants to push when it calls itself an FMCG foods company.

“Their mindset is geared towards one thing: edible oil, edible oil, edible oil,” says a former senior executive with Adani Wilmar. They and a few others The Ken spoke to for this story requested anonymity since they did not want to be seen commenting on the company. Adani Wilmar’s closest competitor in edible oils is yoga guru Baba Ramdev-owned Ruchi Soya Industries.

Adani Wilmar has perhaps realised that this reliance is not ideal. In its IPO filing, the billionaire Gautam Adani-owned company says it’s looking to “derisk our business from dependency on any single product or category”. Indeed, if it doesn’t want to be seen as a mere commodity company that happens to have one well-recognised brand, diversification is not an option but a necessity.

AUTHOR

Seetharaman G

Starting out as a business journalist in 2008, Seetharaman has written about energy, climate change, retail, banking, and technology. He has worked with Business Today, a fortnightly, and the Sunday edition of The Economic Times.

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