By Nivrita GANGULY
Adani Group’s ambitious share sale exceeded its subscription targets Tuesday in a relief for the Indian conglomerate, which is reeling from allegations of “brazen” corporate fraud that wiped more than $65 billion off its value.
The success of India’s biggest follow-on public offer (FPO) is the first reprieve in a horror week for the sprawling business empire of Gautam Adani — still Asia’s richest man despite a bruising $36 billion hit to his personal fortune.
Large institutional investors swooped in on the offer’s final day, even as some of the firm’s listed companies were hammered in trade and smaller retail investors steered clear.
“Thank you for the support provided in making the Adani FPO a success during the most unprecedented and challenging times,” a public relations representative for the conglomerate said in a statement.
The $2.5 billion share offer was 112 percent subscribed by Tuesday afternoon, driven by corporate institutions, foreign funds and other large investors.
But retail investors bid for only 12 percent of their category, despite additional discounts, impeding Adani’s plans to expand his shareholder base and invite “the average, normal Indian mom and dad as shareholders”.
Shares in flagship Adani Enterprises closed 3.35 percent higher on Tuesday but remained well below the 3,112-3,276 rupees price range set for the FPO, making them cheaper to buy on the open market.
Adani Transmission, Adani Green Energy and Adani Ports closed 3.73, 3.06 and 2.67 percent higher respectively.
But Adani Total Gas saw another day of dramatic falls with trading halted for another session after diving 10 percent in the morning.
The natural gas distribution company — of which France’s TotalEnergies owns 37.4 percent — has lost 45 percent in market value over the past week.
Adani Power and Adani Wilmar also hit their circuit breakers after falling five percent each.
Founder Adani, 60, was the world’s third-richest person last week but has now slipped to eighth place on Forbes’ real-time global rich list.
– ‘Brazen manipulation’ –
The slump in Adani stocks began after US investment group Hindenburg Research last week alleged a “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades”.
Adani said it was the victim of a “maliciously mischievous” reputational attack and on Sunday issued a 413-page statement that it said rebutted Hindenburg’s claims.
Dubbing Hindenburg the “Madoffs of Manhattan” — a reference to crooked financier Bernie Madoff — the statement said the researchers’ allegations were “nothing but a lie”.
“This is not merely an unwarranted attack on any specific company but a calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and the growth story and ambition of India,” Adani said.
Hindenburg said in response that “India’s future is being held back by the Adani Group, which has draped itself in the Indian flag while systematically looting the nation”.
It added that Adani’s response only included about 30 pages focused on issues related to its report.