Gautam Adani looks set to hand over his position as Asia’s richest man to another Indian billionaire as shares of his business empire continue to plunge following allegations of fraud by a US short seller .
In a published survey Last Tuesday, Hindenburg Research accused Adani’s ports-to-power group of “brazen stock manipulation and an accounting fraud scheme over decades.”
Adani Group denounced the report as “baseless” and “malicious”, and said it was considering legal action, but the market reaction was brutal and relentless.
The conglomerate, which has seven listed companies, has lost more than $90 billion in market value in the week since Hindenburg released its report.
This stock market rout wiped nearly $40 billion from Adani’s personal fortune. A week ago he was the fourth richest person in the world. He now ranks 10th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and looks set to be overtaken by India’s energy-to-telecom entrepreneur Mukesh Ambani as Asia’s richest man. The Bloomberg Index is updated at the end of each New York trading day.
Forbes’ real-time billionaire ranking already places Ambani, which controls Reliance Industries, above Adani. Ambani’s net worth stands at $83 billion, making him the ninth richest person in the world, while Adani’s wealth is estimated at around $75 billion, according to Forbes.
The turmoil comes despite a brief respite on Tuesday for Adani when its flagship company, Adani Enterprises, managed to issue new shares worth $2.5 billion. The capital raising exercise was billed as the largest public offering ever by a listed company in India. After a tepid start, the offer was fully subscribed shortly before the closing of the markets in Mumbai.
But interest from retail investors was subdued and the stock market crash resumed on Wednesday. Shares of Adani Enterprises closed nearly 30% on c, while Adani Ports plunged nearly 20%.
At the height of his wealth last year, Adani was the second richest person in the world, ahead of Jeff Bezos. It was the first time someone from Asia had ranked so highly on Bloomberg’s list, long dominated by white tech entrepreneurs.