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Adani Enterprises to weigh stock sale months after short-seller turmoil

It would be Adani's first public stock sale since allegations by Hindenburg wiped more than US$100 billion from its value. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK - Less than four months after allegations of fraud by a short-seller tipped his business empire into crisis, billionaire Gautam Adani is considering tapping equity markets in a major test of investor confidence.

Adani Enterprises, the Indian tycoon’s flagship, said in a statement on Wednesday it’s holding a May 13 board meeting to consider selling stock. The company didn’t disclose how much money it intends to raise or who it’s working with on a potential deal.

While the Adani family raised about US$1.9 billion (S$2.5 billion) selling shares in the conglomerate to US investment firm GQG Partners in early March, none of the group’s main units have tapped the equity market since the allegations by Hindenburg Research wiped more than US$100 billion from the conglomerate’s value. Shares have recouped some of their losses since February, though Adani Enterprises still trades at about half its peak level in 2022.

Mr Adani, who became the world’s second-richest person just a few months before the Hindenburg report, has denied the short-seller’s allegations of market manipulation and accounting fraud. The group has been trying to win back market confidence with a series of investor roadshows, early debt repayments and plans to scale back its pace of spending on new projects. Adani Enterprises posted a 26 per cent revenue gain in the quarter ended March and said profit more than doubled.

A successful share sale would go a long way toward cementing the Adani’ group’s recovery from the crisis, though much would depend on the terms of the deal and which investors participate. Adani Enterprises was close to completing a 200 billion-rupee (S$3.2 billion) stock sale in late January, but pulled the offering after the Hindenburg report tanked the shares.

Mr Adani intended to use the stock sale in January to address concerns already being raised about the conglomerate. The offering would have widened the investor base to fend off allegations that the shares, which had nearly doubled in the previous 12 months, were rising because they were thinly traded. Proceeds would have also been used to pay down debt and reduce leverage. BLOOMBERG