THE ADANI GROUP underpins swathes of India’s economy. The family-controlled conglomerate’s businesses include airports, energy and natural resources, among other critical infrastructure. Its founder, Gautam Adani, is the world’s 14th richest man, worth some $72bn, according to Bloomberg. In terms of perceived ability to navigate India’s treacherous legal landscape and impenetrable red tape, he is in the same league as a fellow (slightly wealthier) billionaire, Mukesh Ambani.
So when the share prices of the Adani Group’s six listed entities plunged on June 14th, heads spun. That day the Economic Times, an Indian newspaper, reported that the National Securities Depository, which clears stockmarket trades, had frozen the shares held by three funds based in Mauritius owing to insufficient information about their underlying investors. All three funds were registered at the same address and appear to have a combined $6bn or so in Adani Group assets. The news that a substantial chunk of the free float in Adani Group companies could no longer be traded triggered wild trading in the portion that still could be. Share prices of the companies fell by between 5% and 25%.
The Adani Group immediately issued a statement calling the story “blatantly erroneous”. It was vindicated after the clearing house cleared…