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How a Big Short Cost India’s Adani Empire $100 Billion

The billionaire’s companies have a hand in everything from coal to airports to data centers.

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Photo illustration: Guillem Casasus; Photos: Getty Images

An hour past sunrise in India on Feb. 2, the billionaire Gautam Adani appeared in a video posted online to reassure his investors: Everything will be fine.

For days the shares of companies in his mighty Adani Group conglomerate had been in a tailspin. The selloff was triggered by a damning report published by a US activist short seller—an investor that bets on the prices of assets falling, then tries to make that happen by taking its case to the public. Hindenburg Research accused Adani of running nothing less than “the largest con in corporate history,” with a barrage of allegations about artificially inflated share prices and accounting games. Adani Group issued a strong denial, but investors weren’t waiting to decide who was right. In just a week, the total market value of a group of Adani-related companies, in industries including energy and construction, had fallen more than $90 billion.