Share sale fails to halt Adani market slide
Indian billionaire under siege amid allegations of fraud from activist investors
published : 1 Feb 2023 at 14:45
MUMBAI: A successful public offer failed to stop investors dumping shares in Indian tycoon Gautam Adani's business empire for a fifth day on Wednesday after allegations of massive accounting fraud from a short-seller investment group.
The rout has now wiped out nearly a third — or $76 billion — of the conglomerate's value, Bloomberg News said, while Adani's personal fortune has dived by more than $40 billion according to Forbes.
Leading the decline on Wednesday was Adani Total Gas — in which French giant TotalEnergies owns 37.4% — with trading suspended again after another 10% drop.
Shares in flagship Adani Enterprises were down over five%, even after a stock sale in the firm on Tuesday was oversubscribed despite smaller retail investors largely steering clear.
School dropout Adani, 60, has seen his empire expand at breakneck speed, with Adani Enterprises shares soaring by more than a thousand% in the past five years.
This helped make him, as of last week, the world's third-richest man behind Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault and family, but by Wednesday he had tumbled to ninth place.
According to US investment group Hindenburg Research, Adani has artificially boosted the share prices of its units by funnelling money into the stocks through offshore tax havens.
This "brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme" is "the largest con in corporate history", Hindenburg said in its explosive report issued last week.
Adani said it was the victim of a "maliciously mischievous" reputational attack and on Sunday issued a 413-page statement that said Hindenburg's claims were "nothing but a lie".
Hindenburg, which makes money by betting on stocks falling, said in response that Adani's statement failed to answer most of the questions raised in its report.