Adani overtakes Ambani to become Asia's richest person

Tycoon regains top spot after Supreme Court rules in favor of group following stock price manipulation allegations Gautam Adani, the Indian billionaire who heads conglomerate Adani Group, has once again topped Asia's list of richest people, a day after the country's Supreme Court rejected a special investigation order into allegations of stock market manipulation against his company.

Adani overtakes Ambani to become Asia's richest person
Gautam Adani, the Indian billionaire

The businessman currently ranks 12th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $97.6 billion, just ahead of fellow Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, who has a personal fortune of $97 billion. It's one step higher than that. Notably, Adani's net worth increased by $7.67 billion in the last 24 hours due to the rise in the company's stock price. In a major relief for the 61-year-old, the Supreme Court this week ordered the country's stock market regulator SEBI to complete its ongoing investigation into the group within three months, rather than ordering a special probe. This is what I was instructed to do.

Allegations against the group were first made last year by American research firm Hindenburg, which described the firm as “highly overvalued” and claimed it engaged in “brazen stock manipulation.” In the wake of these claims, the value of the group dipped by about $145 billion in market value at its lowest point. At the time, Adani’s personal fortune was also dealt a serious blow.

On Wednesday, ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, Adani Group stocks rose by 18%, The Times of India reported. At the close of the day’s session all Adani stocks were in the green, led by Adani Energy Solutions, with a 12% surge.

Founded in 1988 as a commodity trading company, Adani Group’s business interests have grown to include infrastructure, electricity generation and transmission, mining, natural gas, agriculture and food. The group is also India’s largest private port operator. 

In August last year, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an international investigative platform, hit Adani Group with fresh allegations. The OCCRP report claimed that millions of dollars were invested in publicly traded shares via “opaque” Mauritius funds linked to business partners of the Adani family, another suspected stock-market violation.

Reacting to the allegation, the Adani Group linked the OCCRP to American billionaire-cum-philanthropist George Soros “who has openly declared his hostility against the Adani Group.” After the Hindenburg report was published, Soros had raised questions over Adani’s alleged ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Delivering its verdict on Thursday, the Supreme Court bench said that such reports by independent groups or investigators may “act as inputs before the SEBI. “However, they cannot be relied upon as conclusive proof of the inadequacy of the investigation by SEBI.”