TotalEnergies has put on hold a planned investment in Adani Group’s $50-billion hydrogen project pending an audit following allegations by a US short-seller, chief executive of the French oil giant Patrick Pouyanne has said.

While the partnership, with the French giant to take a 25 per cent stake in the hydrogen venture of the Adani Group, was announced in June last year, TotalEnergies has not yet signed a contract, Pouyanne said at an earnings call.

‘Need clarity’

“It makes no sense to add more (projects) until there is clarity. Adani has to explain the allegations,” he said.

TotalEnergies is one of the biggest foreign investors in Adani’s business empire and had previously taken stakes in the group’s renewable energy venture, Adani Green Energy Ltd, and city gas unit Adani Total Gas Ltd.

Per the June 2022 announcement, TotalEnergies was to take 25 per cent equity in Adani New Industries Ltd (ANIL), which is to invest $50 billion over 10 years in a green hydrogen ecosystem that includes an initial production capacity of 1 million tonnes before 2030.

‘In compliance’

Total has $3.1 billion investment, said Pouyanne, adding the firm was “happy” with those investments as both Adani Green and Adani Total Gas are performing well. “These companies have assets and revenue and are healthy,” he said.

The French company conducted due diligence before and after investing in the Adani companies, he said. Shares of Adani Green and Adani Total Gas are still up by a factor of two and eight, respectively, since Total invested in them, Pouyanne added.

Last week, the firm said its investments in Adani group companies were in full compliance with the law.