Gautam Adani Started Last Week as Asia's Richest Man. Now, He's Not Even India's
Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group, during a press conference at a 2012 press conference in Mumbai to unveil the companys new global corporate brand identity and logo. Credit - Abhijit Bhatlekar—Mint via Getty Images
Billionaire and business tycoon Gautam Adani is no longer Asia nor India’s richest man, according to Bloomberg.
Over the course of about one week, Adani’s personal net worth has dramatically fallen, having started last week as the third wealthiest person in the world.
On Wednesday, Adani’s net worth fell below Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, whose company Reliance Industries operates in oil and gas, telecommunications, retail, and other sectors. Adani had held claim to India’s richest man since February 2022, when he was briefly the second richest person on the planet.
At present, Adani still holds a fortune of $72 billion but has lost the most wealth of anyone on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index since the start of the year. Adani’s plummeting personal net worth—which is down nearly $50 billion this year—follows the release of a report last week by the activist investor group Hindenburg Research about Adani’s eponymous company. The short-seller’s report alleged that $218 billion worth of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” took place at Adani Group over several decades.
The Hindenburg report alleges that large stakes in Adani Group subsidiaries are held by offshore shell entities controlled by relatives, which drastically inflates the group’s value.
The firm said its report was based on dozens of interviews, including with senior Adani Group executives, plus thousands of documents and site visits in various countries.
Adani Group strongly denied the allegations Sunday in a 413-page rebuttal. The company has also threatened to take legal action against the short seller.
Read More: Adani Defends Itself After Fraud Allegations. But the Real Victim May Be India’s Reputation
In the wake of the report, Adani Group’s flagship Adani Enterprises and its affiliates have dropped more than $90 billion in market value as of Wednesday. The findings have also had a knock on effect for other Indian businesses; the state-owned Life Insurance Company of India, which holds a significant stake in Adani Enterprises, has also recorded a significant drop in its share price since the release of the Hindenburg report.
These recent losses cost India a spot in the world’s top five equity markets, after India’s market capitalization dropped to $3.2 trillion on Monday.
The hit to Adani’s personal net worth, the market value of his companies, and the knock on effect on various other Indian conglomerates has consequences that observers say reach the highest levels of government. Adani Group is the business most closely associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Adani’s rise has been touted as a success story synonymous with India’s growth since Modi took office in 2014.
Adani’s net worth had shot up by 900% in the past two years alone.
Adani Group has called Hindenburg’s report a “a calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions.”
Despite the rout, Adani Enterprises raised $2.5 billion in a share sale Tuesday. The ability to raise the full sum has been seen as a sign of confidence by investors. One of the big backers was Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company, an existing investor in Adani Enterprises, which said in a statement that it believed in the Indian conglomerate’s fundamentals.
However, Adani Enterprises called off the share sale Wednesday in a major blow to both the company and Adani himself. “Given these extraordinary circumstances, the Company’s board felt that going ahead with the issue will not be morally correct,” Adani said.
According to Reuters, Adani Group is working to refund proceeds from the sale to investors.