Gautam Adani falls to 24th place in billionaires' list

Indian business tycoon's net worth has dropped to $52.4 billion as the stock rout in his group of companies continues

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's current net worth is $52.4 billion, down sharply from a peak of $150 billion in September last year. Reuters
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Embattled Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani has fallen to 24th place in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index after shedding another $3.7 billion of his net worth overnight, as the market value of Adani Group companies continues to fall in a stock sell-off that started in late January.

The Adani Group chairman has seen $68.1 billion wiped from his personal fortune since the beginning of the year, when US investor Hindenburg Research accused companies owned by the Indian billionaire of “brazen” market manipulation and accounting fraud.

His current net worth is $52.4 billion, a sharp drop from the peak of his wealth of $150 billion in September last year.

Watch: How India's Gautam Adani lost his title as Asia's richest man

In its January 24 report, short-seller Hindenburg Research alleged accounting fraud, improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation by Mr Adani, triggering a sharp fall in his companies' share prices and wiping $127 billion from the group’s market value.

Mr Adani has repeatedly denied the accusations.

On February 10, Moody’s Investors Service changed its ratings outlook for four Adani Group companies.

The adjustment came after index provider MSCI said it would reduce the weightings of four of his businesses in its indexes after a review of the number of shares that are freely traded.

The rating agency said it changed its outlook on the Adani companies following their “significant and rapid decline” in market value following the Hindenburg report.

Moody’s changed the outlook to negative for Adani Green Energy, Adani Green Energy Restricted Group (comprising Adani Green Energy, Parampujya Solar Energy Private, Prayatna Developers Private), Adani Transmission Step-One and Adani Electricity Mumbai.

However, it maintained a stable outlook for Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, Adani International Container Terminal Private, Adani Green Energy Restricted Group, comprising Wardha Solar (Maharashtra) Private, Kodangal Solar Parks Private and Adani Renewable Energy.

It also maintained a stable outlook for Adani Transmission Restricted Group.

Meanwhile, the ports-to-power conglomerate has halved its revenue growth target and plans to hold off fresh capital expenditure, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

The group will now aim for revenue growth of 15 per cent to 20 per cent for at least the next financial year, down from the 40 per cent expansion originally targeted, according to Bloomberg.

Capital expenditure plans will also be scaled down, as the group prioritises bolstering its financial health over aggressive expansion, Bloomberg added.

“Once the current market stabilises, each entity will review its own capital market strategy,” an Adani Group representative said in a statement on Monday, adding that its business plan was “fully funded”.

“We are confident in the continued ability of our portfolio to deliver superior returns to shareholders.”

On February 1, Adani Enterprises abruptly shelved its $2.5 billion follow-on share offer — despite it being fully subscribed the day before.

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On February 6, the group said Mr Adani and his family prepaid loans worth $1.11 billion to release pledged shares across three companies.

The conglomerate also plans to prepay a $500 million bridge loan due next month, Bloomberg reported last week.

Barclays, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank are among banks that loaned the group $4.5 billion to finance the purchase of Holcim cement assets last year. A portion of that loan is due on March 9.

Meanwhile, Mr Adani did not attend a three-day Uttar Pradesh investors’ summit in Lucknow on Friday, an event that he has attended in the past. Top Indian industry leaders pledged billions of dollars in infrastructure and business development in the country’s most populous state.

Last year, Mr Adani pledged investments of more than 700 billion Indian rupees ($8.46 billion) at a similar event in Uttar Pradesh.

Separately, TotalEnergies’ decision to pause $4 billion investment in a green hydrogen venture with Adani Group, pending audits of the Indian conglomerate, will affect the project’s growth funding, as the French energy major was expected to also guarantee half of its debt, India's Economic Times reported on Monday.

This could be a big blow for the new venture’s target of production of green hydrogen at $1 per kilogram by 2030, the report said.

Mr Adani was one of the biggest wealth gainers in 2022, adding $42.2 billion to his net worth and overtaking Bill Gates and Warren Buffett on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The tycoon started climbing the ranks of the world’s richest in April last year, when shares in his listed companies rocketed.

He ended 2022 as the world’s third-richest person with a fortune of $119 billion.

Mr Adani, a first-generation entrepreneur who began his career as a diamond trader in Mumbai in the 1980s, helped to run his brother’s plastics business in his home state of Gujarat before setting up Adani Enterprises — the group’s flagship company — as an agricultural commodities trader in 1988.

Updated: February 14, 2023, 8:59 AM