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Adani market losses snowball to $100 bln on shelved share sale

2023-02-02T06:46:33Z

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani addresses delegates during the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata, India April 20, 2022. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

India’s Adani group shares sank on Thursday after market turmoil forced the conglomerate to axe a crucial $2.5 billion stock offer, deepening its market losses to more than $100 billion and sparking worries about the potential systemic impact.

The withdrawal of Adani Enterprises’ (ADEL.NS) share sale marked a dramatic setback for Gautam Adani, the school dropout-turned-billionaire whose fortunes rose rapidly in recent years, but have fast dwindled due to a U.S.-based short-seller’s critical research report released on Jan. 24.

The events are an embarrassing turn for the billionaire who has forged partnerships with foreign players and marquee investors in a global expansion of businesses that stretch from ports to mining to cement.

Adani late on Wednesday called off the share sale as a stocks rout sparked by short-seller Hindenburg’s criticisms intensified, despite the offer being fully subscribed on Tuesday. In the fallout of the attack, Adani also lost his title as Asia’s richest man.

The group’s flagship firm – Adani Enterprises (ADEL.NS) – plunged 10% after opening higher on Thursday. Other group companies – Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSE.NS), Adani Total Gas (ADAG.NS), Adani Green Energy (ADNA.NS) and Adani Transmission (ADAI.NS) – fell 10% each, while Adani Power (ADAN.NS) and Adani Wilmar (ADAW.NS) dropped 5% each.

Adani has slipped in the ranking of the world’s richest to 16th, as per Forbes’ list, down from third last week.

“The selling may intensify in the afternoon session, as we have seen before. Unless Adani is able to regain the confidence of institutional investors, stocks will be in freefall,” said Avinash Gorakshakar, head of research at Mumbai-based Profitmart Securities.

Adani’s plummeting stocks have raised concerns about the likelihood of a wider impact on India’s financial system.

India’s central bank has asked local banks for details of their exposure to the Adani group of companies, government and banking sources told Reuters on Thursday. CLSA estimates that Indian banks were exposed to about 40% of the 2 trillion rupees ($24.53 billion) of Adani group’s debt in the fiscal year to March 2022. read more

Citigroup’s (C.N) wealth unit has stopped extending margin loans to its clients against securities of Adani group and decided to cut the loan-to-value ratio for credit against Adani securities to zero on Thursday, said a source.

In New Delhi, opposition lawmakers submitted notices in the Indian parliament, demanding discussion on the U.S. short-seller’s report. The Congress party’s lawmaker, Manish Tewari, said he will demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation into the matter, Reuters partner ANI reported.

Hindenburg’s report last week alleged an improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation by the Adani group. It also raised concerns about high debt and the valuations of seven listed Adani companies.

The Adani group has denied the accusations, saying the short-seller’s allegation of stock manipulation has “no basis” and stems from an ignorance of Indian law. The group has always made the necessary regulatory disclosures, it added.

Earlier this week, the Adani group said it had the complete support of investors, but investor confidence has tapered in recent days.

As shares plunged after the Hindenburg report, Adani managed to secure the share sale subscriptions on Tuesday even though the stock’s market price was below the issue’s offer price. But on Wednesday, stocks plunged again.

In a late night announcement on Wednesday, Adani said he was withdrawing the share sale as the company’s “stock price has fluctuated over the course of the day. Given these extraordinary circumstances, the company’s board felt that going ahead with the issue will not be morally correct.”

Early on Thursday, Adani said in a video address the “interest of my investors is paramount and everything is secondary. Hence, to insulate the investors from potential losses we have withdrawn” the share sale.