Shares of India’s Adani Enterprises (ADEL.NS) sank 20% on Friday as a scathing report by a U.S. short seller triggered a rout in the conglomerate’s listed firms, casting doubts on how investors will respond to the company’s record $2.45 billion secondary offer.
Seven listed companies of the Adani conglomerate – controlled by one of the world’s richest men Gautam Adani – have lost a combined $48 billion in market capitalisation since Wednesday, with U.S. bonds of Adani firms also falling after Hindenburg Research flagged concerns in a Jan. 24 report about debt levels and the use of tax havens.
The rout took shares of Adani Enterprises, the group’s flagship company, well below the offer price of its secondary sale, which had initially been offered at a discount.
The Adani Group is concerned about the fall in share prices but continues to be in wait and see mode as the share sale continues until Jan. 31, said two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.
India’s capital markets regulator is studying the Hindenburg report and may use it to aid its own ongoing probe into offshore fund holdings of Adani Group, two other sources said. Spokepersons for the regulator and Adani had no immediate comment.
Adani Group has dismissed the Hindenburg report as baseless and said it is considering whether to take legal action against the New York-based firm. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the regulator’s move.
With a net worth of $97.6 billion, billionaire Gautam Adani is now the world’s seventh richest man, according to Forbes, slipping from the third position he held before the Hindenburg report.
Adani met the county’s power minister R.K. Singh on Friday in New Delhi, according to a source familiar with the matter. The agenda of the meeting was not immediately known.
The billionaire hails from the western state of Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s main opposition Congress party has often accused Adani and other billionaires of getting favourable policy treatment from Modi’s federal administration, allegations the billionaire denies.
The stunning market selloff has cast a shadow over Adani Enterprises’ secondary share sale that started on Friday. The anchor portion of the sale saw participation from investors including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority on Wednesday.
“The sell-off is seriously extreme … it has clearly dented the overall investor sentiment in the market,” said Saurabh Jain, assistant vice-president of research at SMC Global Securities.
Market worries extended to Indian banks with exposure to Adani Group’s debt. The Nifty Bank index (.NSEBANK) fell over 3%, while the broader 50-share Nifty index (.NSEI) was down 1.5%.
CLSA estimates that Indian banks were exposed to about 40% of the 2 trillion rupees ($24.53 billion) of Adani Group debt in the fiscal year to March 2022.
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