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Adani buys 50% stake in drone startup General Aeronautics

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AHMEDABAD : Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, on Friday signed an agreement to acquire a 50% stake in Bengaluru-based General Aeronautics Pvt. Ltd.

“Adani Defence Systems and Technologies shall leverage its military drone and AI/ML capabilities and work with General Aeronautics for providing end-to-end solutions for domestic agricultural sector,” the conglomerate says in an exchange filing.

The acquisition, expected to be completed by July 31, comes weeks after Adani’s joint venture with Israeli firm Elbit Systems was chosen in the first provisional list under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components.

Incorporated in 2016, General Aeronautics is an end-to-end agri solutions provider. It provides robotic drones and drone-based solutions for crop protection services, crop health, precision farming and yield monitoring using artificial intelligence and analytics for the agricultural sector.

Billionaire Gautam Adani has been on an acquisition spree after stocks of the listed companies of the ports-to-power conglomerate boosted his fortunes.

Last week, the Adani group forayed into healthcare by incorporating Adani Health Ventures (AHVL). The new entity will be engaged in healthcare-related activities like setting up medical and diagnostic facilities, and research centres.

Just four days before this, the Adani family entered into definitive agreements for the acquisition of Switzerland-based Holcim Ltd’s entire stake in two Indian cement companies — Ambuja Cements Ltd and ACC Ltd. The value for the Holcim stake and open offer consideration for the two cement makers is around $10.5 billion, making this the largest ever acquisition by Adani.

The conglomerate is also vying for a foothold in the news media business. Earlier this month, Adani Enterprises unveiled its plans to acquire a 49% stake in Quintillion Business Media — the parent entity of business news platform BQPrime.

The Adani family has also committed to invest $75 million in Abu Dhabi-headquartered petrochemicals firm Borouge’s $2 billion initial public offering (IPO), touted to be the biggest ever listing in the emirate.

Last month, India’s largest commercial port operator Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones (APSEZ) said its subsidiary Adani Harbour Services will acquire a 100% stake in third-party marine services provider Ocean Sparkle Ltd, which has an enterprise value of ₹1,700 crore.

Adani, the group’s chairman, became the fourth richest person in the world in April, tying with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Adani’s fortunes, however, dropped slightly this month, putting him just behind billionaire investor Warren Buffett at the sixth spot.

The Gujarat-based tycoon’s wealth has surged about $24 billion this year, making him the biggest gainer year-to-date, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Shares of recently listed FMCG major Adani Wilmar — a 50:50 joint venture with Singapore-based Wilmar International — have surged 165% since listing in February.

Adani, who entered the centibillionaires club in April, initially made his fortune in the coal industry. As soon as the government decided to dump fossil fuels, Adani quickly joined the green energy bandwagon.

Adani Green Energy is on its way to becoming the largest solar power producer in the world. The group plans to spend 75% capital expenditure in green businesses, including $20 billion in renewable, green component manufacturing and enabling infrastructure, over the next decade. It plans to build 45 gigawatt renewable capacity by 2030. In October, it completed the largest M&A in India’s renewable space by acquiring SB Energy, an 80:20 joint venture between Japan-based SoftBank Group and Bharti Group, for ₹26,000 crore.

In transmission and distribution, Adani Transmission is already India’s largest private utility which has a presence in 12 states with over three crore connections.

Adani also has a joint venture with Indian Oil Corporation, Indian Oil-Adani Gas, which is implementing city gas distribution networks in 19 cities. In October 2020, the group sold 37.4% stake in Adani Gas to French energy giant Total for ₹5,700 crore — the largest FDI in the country’s city gas distribution business.

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