Jan 31, 2023
Adani Share Sale Fully Subscribed After Last-Minute Jump in Bids
(Bloomberg) -- Beleaguered Indian tycoon Gautam Adani got a reprieve Tuesday by pulling off a closely watched $2.5 billion share sale, defying odds after a short seller’s allegations of corporate malfeasance erased more than a quarter of his group’s market value.
The offering by Adani Enterprises Ltd. — India’s largest follow-on share sale — was fully subscribed on the final day, aided by a last-minute surge in demand from largely existing shareholders and institutional investors. Retail investors, whom Adani was hoping to court, showed little interest.
While the share sale’s completion is a victory for Adani after Hindenburg Research’s allegations cast a shadow over the offering, it’s unlikely to fully dispel investor concerns about the conglomerate’s corporate governance. The market value of Adani’s listed companies is still down about $69 billion since Hindenburg alleged the group used a web of firms in tax havens to inflate revenue and stock prices.
Read more: Adani Seeks to Calm Investors With 413-Page Hindenburg Rebuttal
The short seller’s attack has come at a pivotal moment for the Adani Group, which has been diversifying into everything from green energy to media, with ambitious expansion plans from Israel to Morocco and Sri Lanka. The growth has been largely fueled by debt, which according to the group, stood at a net 1.6 trillion rupees ($19.7 billion). A surge in share prices helped add more than $40 billion to Adani’s personal wealth last year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
As a result of the short seller’s report, the finances of the group are in focus now. India’s market regulator met with ratings agencies in recent days to discuss the Adani Group companies, Bloomberg News reported separately. But there’s been no suggestion the conglomerate would struggle to make debt payments or that the meeting with ratings agencies is more than routine dialog.
Failure to meet the fundraising goal would have been a major blow to Adani’s prestige and would have heightened concerns about the conglomerate’s debt. The turmoil also prompted the Adani Group to put up millions of dollars worth of shares to maintain its collateral cover on a $1 billion loan, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.
While speaking at an event in Israel on Tuesday, Adani didn’t mention the allegations. Looking relaxed and smiling, he instead vowed to press ahead with his investments in the Jewish state, where his joint venture won a tender last year to buy the Haifa Port.
The fully subscribed follow-on offer nonetheless removes one overhang for India’s $3.2 trillion stock market, which recently dropped out of the world’s five biggest by value. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex has eked out gains over the past two days after tumbling on the Hindenburg report last week. Adani has denied the short seller’s allegations.
“One concern of the market seems to be out of the way now,” said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at HDFC Securities Ltd. “They have been able to convince high-net-worth individuals and deep-pocketed people to take exposure.”
Apart from existing Adani shareholder Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Co., which said it would invest $400 million in the offering, or about 16%, anchor investors like Life Insurance Corp. of India and an arm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also plowed money in.
IHC, controlled by a key member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, invested almost $2 billion in Adani’s companies last year.
“Our interest in Adani Group is driven by our confidence and belief in the fundamentals of Adani Enterprises,” IHC’s Chief Executive Officer Syed Basar Shueb said in a statement.
A team of more than 60 people at the Adani Group worked on the share sale, with some asked to regularly brief global and domestic investors to allay concerns raised by the short-seller’s report, according to a person familiar with the matter.
On Jan. 28, the group had major roadshows with regional investors in Adani’s home state of Gujarat to convince them about the stock’s potential, another person said. Several high-net-worth individuals offered help to the Adani Group, that person said. A representative for the Adani Group didn’t comment.
For more, read: Who Is Adani and What Are Hindenburg’s Allegations?
However, the weak uptake from individual investors — they bid for just 12% of the shares offered to them — undermines a key goal of the offering to broaden Adani Group’s investor base. Chief Financial Officer Jugeshinder Singh said in November that after tapping strategic investors in recent years, the conglomerate was looking for a wider investor base that doesn’t mind a company investing in long-term projects that can take time to show returns.
The order books for institutional and retail investors opened within days of Hindenburg’s almost 100-page report, which raised some 88 questions and called the group’s meteoric rise “the largest con in corporate history.” The allegations led to a massive selloff in the shares of the Adani Group, sending the flagship’s stock below the offer price of the sale.
READ: Adani Wipeout Puts Focus on Budget to Reignite India Stock Rally
“Now that Adani’s FPO is out of the way, investors’ focus may start shifting back to India growth story,” said Sumeet Rohra, a fund manager at Smartsun Capital Pte. in Singapore.
--With assistance from Abhishek Vishnoi, Ishika Mookerjee and Angus Whitley.
(Writes through with other developments. A previous version of this article corrected the chart’s market value to billions of dollars.)
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