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Top to bottom: Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries; Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group; and Ratan Tata, former chair of the Tata Group. India Inc.'s top players were spooked by a fall in Adani's share price following an explosive short-seller report in January.   © Nikkei montage/Source photos by AP and Getty Images
The Big Story

Adani crisis puts India's winner-take-all economy on trial

Under new scrutiny as election nears, India Inc. pulls back on new investments

DEV CHATTERJEE, Contributing writer | India

MUMBAI -- The atmosphere was festive at the news conference of Adani Enterprises at South Mumbai's posh Trident hotel on Jan. 19. The flagship company of the Adani Group, India's largest private port and airport operator, was preparing a share sale to raise 200 billion rupees ($2.43 billion). Investment bankers being served vegetarian food and nonalcoholic beverages were confident the sale would be oversubscribed by several times, breaking previous records.

Addressing the media via video link from the group's corporate headquarters in Ahmedabad, 526 kilometers north of Mumbai, Jugeshinder Singh, Adani's chief financial officer, talked passionately about how investors could buy into "strong businesses" incubated by the company and how the group is spreading equity culture so that retail investors could become rich. "When you travel across India," a jubilant Singh said, "you can see our assets like ports, airports and data centers for yourself. These are tangible, cash-generating assets, and investors can look forward to participating in the success of these ventures."

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