(Reuters) -India's Adani group shares plunged on Thursday after the Gautam Adani-led conglomerate shelved a $2.5 billion share sale amid a turbulent market, bringing its cumulative market capitalisation losses to $100 billion since last week's short-seller attack.
The withdrawal of Adani Enterprises' share sale marks a dramatic setback for Adani, the school dropout-turned-billionaire whose fortunes rose rapidly in recent years in line with the stock values of his businesses.
Adani on Wednesday called off the share sale as a stocks rout sparked by U.S. short-seller Hindenburg's criticisms deepened, despite the offer being fully subscribed on Tuesday. In the fallout of the short-seller's attack, Adani has also lost his title as Asia's richest man.
The group's flagship firm - Adani Enterprises - plunged 10% after opening higher on Thursday. Other group companies - Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, Adani Total Gas, Adani Green Energy and Adani Transmission - fell 10% each, while Adani Power and Adani Wilmar dropped 5% each.
The stocks tumble and shelving of the share sale mark an embarrassing turn of events for the billionaire who has forged partnerships with foreign players in his global expansion of businesses that stretch from ports to mining to cement.
Adani is now the world's 16th richest, as per Forbes' list, down from third rank last week.
India's central bank has asked local banks for details of their exposure to the Adani group of companies, government and banking sources told Reuters on Thursday. CLSA estimates that Indian banks were exposed to about 40% of the 2 trillion rupees ($24.53 billion) of Adani group's debt in the fiscal year to March 2022.
Earlier this week, the Adani group said it had the complete support of investors, but investor confidence has tapered in recent days.
Citigroup's wealth unit has stopped extending margin loans to its clients against securities of Adani group, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. Citi declined to comment.
Hindenburg's report last week alleged an improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation by the Adani group. It also raised concerns about high debt and the valuations of seven listed Adani companies.
The Adani group has denied the accusations, saying the short-seller's allegation of stock manipulation has "no basis" and stems from an ignorance of Indian law. The group has always made the necessary regulatory disclosures, it added.
As shares plunged after the Hindenburg report, Adani managed to secure the share sale subscriptions on Tuesday even though the stock's market price was below the issue's offer price. But on Wednesday, stocks plunged again.
In a late night announcement on Wednesday, Adani said he was withdrawing the share sale as the company's "stock price has fluctuated over the course of the day. Given these extraordinary circumstances, the company’s board felt that going ahead with the issue will not be morally correct."