(Bloomberg) -- The largest shareholder of Tingo Group Inc., a company that says it provides a market place for farmers in Nigeria, lost 94% of the value of its US-traded over-the-counter shares even before short-seller Hindenburg Research published allegations against the firm.
The market capitalization of Agri-Fintech Holdings Inc., which was known as Tingo Inc. until April, dropped by $6.8 billion in the past 16 months until Monday, a day before Hindenburg published a note alleging that Tingo Group was an “exceptionally obvious scam with completely fabricated financials.” Tingo in a statement said that it “categorically refutes all the allegations and misinformation” outlined in Hindenburg’s report.
Agri-Fintech’s over-the-counter shares in the US fell 16% by 11:27 a.m. in New York, after plunging 81% on Tuesday. Nasdaq-listed Tingo, which Hindenburg is short selling, dropped 48% Tuesday.
Agri-Fintech owns 15% of Tingo, and expects to own 75% of the firm later this year, according to a regulatory filing.
Tingo says it services about 9.3 million farmers — mostly in Africa’s biggest economy — leasing smartphones that allow its clients to access credit and markets via mobile-phone applications. But Joshua Oyedele, the chairman of the Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association in Nigeria’s Ondo state, on Tuesday said he hadn’t heard of Tingo offering a platform for commodity traders in the West African nation.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Dozy Mmobuosi said in an interview with Bloomberg in February 2022 that Tingo was seeking to raise $500 million to expand across Africa, and was in talks to list on the New York Stock Exchange. Both deals have yet to happen. His bid to buy Sheffield United has yet to be approved by English football authorities.
Mmobuosi didn’t respond to requests for comment emailed on Tuesday.
--With assistance from Tolani Awere and Matt Turner.
(Updates with latest share performance in third paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the name of the company and its relationship to Tingo.)
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