Gautam Adani, the founder and chairman of Adani Group, has regained his status as one of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of over $100 billion, after recovering from a massive loss of wealth following a short-seller attack last year.
Adani, who heads India’s largest infrastructure conglomerate, saw his fortune soar by $2.7 billion on Wednesday, reaching $100.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is now the 12th-richest person in the world, just behind his fellow countryman and rival, Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries.
Adani’s wealth rebound comes after a turbulent year, when his group faced allegations of market manipulation and fraud by Hindenburg Research, a US-based short-seller firm, in June 2023. The report claimed that Adani Group had inflated its valuation and earnings by using a complex web of shell companies and dubious transactions. The report also questioned the ownership and legitimacy of some of the group’s foreign investors.
The allegations triggered a sharp sell-off in the shares of Adani Group companies, wiping out more than $80 billion from Adani’s net worth in a month. The group also faced regulatory scrutiny and legal challenges from various authorities, including the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the Supreme Court of India.
However, Adani Group strongly denied the charges and defended its corporate governance and transparency. The group also managed to win back the confidence of its investors and lenders, by repaying its debts, resolving its disputes, and securing new partnerships and funding.
Some of the notable deals that boosted Adani Group’s prospects include:
- A $4 billion investment by Rajiv Jain’s GQG Partners LLC, a US-based asset management firm, in various Adani Group companies in 2023.
- A $500 million investment by the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, in Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd., the power distribution arm of Adani Group, in July 2023.
- A $300 million investment by TotalEnergies SE, a French energy giant, in a joint venture with Adani Green Energy Ltd., the renewable energy arm of Adani Group, in August 2023.
- A $500 million bond issuance by Adani Green Energy Ltd., the first overseas debt sale by the company since the Hindenburg report, in February 2024.
- A favourable verdict by the Supreme Court of India, which ordered SEBI to complete its investigation into Adani Group within three months and ruled out any further probes, in January 2024.
Adani Group, which operates in sectors such as ports, airports, power, mining, renewables, gas, and agro, has also reported strong financial performance in the past year, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s flagship company, Adani Enterprises Ltd., posted a 130% increase in its net profit for the quarter ended December 2023, compared to the same period a year ago.
Adani, who started his business career as a commodity trader in the 1980s, has emerged as one of the most influential and ambitious entrepreneurs in India, with a vision to build a global empire. He has also faced criticism and controversy for his environmental and social impact, his political connections, and his aggressive expansion strategy.