By KRUTIKA PATHI
NEW DELHI (AP) — The closely watched $2.5 billion share sale launched by Asia’s richest man, Gautam Adani, was fully subscribed on Tuesday, bucking expectations after a turbulent week in which the conglomerate’s shares plunged in a tussle with a U.S. short seller.
By the time trading closed on Tuesday, the Indian group’s flagship Adani Enterprises share sale drew nearly 51 million bids, going beyond the 45.5 million on offer to the public, according to the Bombay Stock Exchange. While the shares of some Adani-linked companies went up, three were still down between 5% and 10%.
The share sale and its success were seen as a crucial test of investor confidence in Adani, whose sprawling empire shed tens of billions of dollars within a week after Hindenburg Research accused the conglomerate of stock market manipulation and fraud.
Adani, 60, has since slid on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index from being the world’s third richest person to the 11th, as his net worth shrank more than $30 billion to an estimated $84 billion.
Hindenburg, which said it was betting against the Adani Group, accused it of “pulling the largest con in corporate history.” It said it judged the seven key Adani listed companies to have an “85% downside, purely on a fundamental basis owing to sky-high valuations.”
The short-selling firm said its report followed a two-year investigation. Most of the allegations involved concerns about the group’s debt levels, activities of top executives, use of offshore shell companies to artificially boost share prices and past investigations into fraud. It listed 88 questions for the group to answer.
On Sunday, the Adani Group dismissed Hindenburg’s allegations and issued a 413-page report that rejected its questions, saying none of them was “based on independent or journalistic fact finding.” Adani’s response included documents and data tables and said the group has made all necessary regulatory disclosures and has abided by local laws.
Hindenburg responded by saying Adani had answered only 26 of its 88 questions and failed to address many of the issues it raised.
The share sale, which began Friday, had seen mostly poor demand until Tuesday. Other Adani stocks were still down, so “it’s a mixed reaction,” said Brian Freitas, a New Zealand-based analyst with Periscope Analytics who has researched the Adani Group. The share price of Adani Enterprises, which stood at 2,948 rupees ($36) on Tuesday evening, was still below the initial price band of 3,112 rupees to 3,279 rupees.
Freitas said the report was unlikely to have a long-term effect on the Indian market but could continue to cast a shadow over Adani stocks until the matter is put to rest. “Indian investors are well versed with their market – foreign investors look at global markets, so if there is an issue of corporate governance in a country, they might look at it more closely,” Freitas added.
Late on Monday, Abu Dhabi-based conglomerated International Holding Co. said it will make a $381 million investment in Adani Enterprises. The company, whose chairman is the United Arab Emirates’ national security adviser, had invested $2 billion last year in some of Adani’s subsidiaries.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.
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