Jan 30, 2023
Adani’s $2.5 Billion Share Offering Faces Critical Final Day
(Bloomberg) -- Gautam Adani inched closer to completing his flagship company’s $2.5 billion share sale, a feat that could offer Asia’s richest man some reprieve after his empire was rocked by allegations of fraud by short seller Hindenburg Research.
Investors had placed orders for about 85% of the total shares on sale in the follow-on offering by Adani Enterprises Ltd. as of 2:39 p.m. in Mumbai on Tuesday, the final day of bidding, excluding the amount allotted to anchor investors. While the company’s shares were up about 3%, they continued to trade in the market for less than Adani is charging in the offering.
The stakes are high for Adani, who has already suffered one of the world’s biggest-ever declines in personal wealth. A successful deal would show he still has the ability to attract investors with bold expansion plans in industries ranging from green energy to ports and e-commerce. But failure to reach his target would represent a major blow to the tycoon’s prestige and heighten concerns about the conglomerate’s debt load.
The saga has also become a litmus test of India’s appeal to global investors, after the Hindenburg report put a spotlight on the country’s corporate governance and regulatory oversight. While the the follow-on offering was designed in part to broaden Adani’s base of shareholders, demand thus far from retail and institutional investors has been limited.
READ: Who Is Adani and What Are Hindenburg’s Allegations?: QuickTake
Among the most notable buyers is Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Co., which said Monday it will invest about $400 million. The funding from IHC, which is controlled by a key member of the emirate’s royal family, will represent about 16% of the offering and follows an almost $2 billion investment in Adani’s companies last year.
The subscription level of 85% compares with 3% as of Monday’s close. Retail investors bid for 10% of the shares on offer to them, while the company’s employees bid for 45% of the shares for their category.
Adani Enterprises had lured dozens of anchor investors before Hindenburg’s allegations that the Indian conglomerate used a web of companies in tax havens to inflate revenue and stock prices even as debt piled up. But deal has been shrouded in doubt ever since, with 10 of the conglomerate’s companies losing more than $70 billion in market value.
“Retail portion seems to be the only trouble at the moment,” said Sameer Kalra, founder of Target Investing in Mumbai. “If the FPO closes successfully, it will provide a breather to the group.”
Adani Total Gas Ltd. plunged by the 10% daily limit on Tuesday, but some other stocks rebounded after the sharp recent declines. Ambuja Cements Ltd. climbed about 4%.
Adani has rebutted Hindenburg’s allegations, characterizing them as a malicious attack on India itself. There will be no change to the pricing and the share sale will proceed as scheduled, Adani Group CFO Jugeshinder Singh told news channel CNBC TV-18 in an interview earlier.
Meanwhile, Soren Aandahl, founder and chief investment officer at short-selling firm Blue Orca Capital LLC, lauded Hindenburg Research’s report. Investor Bill Ackman earlier said the report is “highly credible” and that there’s too much liability exposure for the banks involved in Adani’s ongoing share sale.
The rout in Adani-related companies has undermined Indian stock benchmarks, which have become the biggest laggards in Asia Pacific this year. That’s worsening the outlook for a market that was already coming under pressure after a rally in 2022 and signs of a rotation into North Asia.
The Hindenburg report “represents a crossroads” for India’s emerging stock market, and “raises serious questions about the governance standards that need to be matured” as its capital markets develop, Aandahl said.
READ: Adani Seeks to Calm Investors With 413-Page Hindenburg Rebuttal
--With assistance from Ashutosh Joshi and Devidutta Tripathy.
(Corrects the chart’s market value to billions of dollars.)
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