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Saturday November 27, 2021

Indian billionaire’s fall after jet-setting lifestyle

February 21, 2020

Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty was once a typical billionaire with a taste for the high-life, NDTV reported. He splurged on a private jet, vintage cars and two entire floors of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper. His website shows him hobnobbing with politicians, Bill Gates and Bollywood royalty. “The thrill of speed and freedom makes me love cars,” Shetty, 77, told local reorters last year. Shetty had more than enough money — at least on paper — to afford such a lifestyle from companies he helped found, including hospital operator NMC Health Plc and financial services firm Finablr Plc. On December 10, his stakes in the public companies were valued at $2.4 billion, making up the bulk of a fortune spanning education, hospitality and one of the world’s oldest tea companies. Then, a week later, Carson Block came along.

Block’s investment firm, Muddy Waters, issued a report criticizing NMC’s accounts and disclosing a short position. Since then, Muddy Waters’s scrutiny has snowballed into a troubling scenario for Shetty that sheds light on his complex share arrangements and casts doubts about his net worth. His holdings in Finablr and NMC are worth $885 million based on market closing prices Tuesday, but Shetty’s fortune may now be just a fraction of that, depending on the size of his borrowings

Filings this month show that Shetty pledged a quarter of his NMC stake against loans with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank. Two other shareholders may own half of his reported stake. The situation “seems to have gone beyond some of the issues that Muddy Waters focused on initially,” said Gavin Launder, a fund manager at Legal & General Investment Management, who owned shares in NMC until October. “The increased scrutiny has unearthed other issues.”