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Should Asia’s business giants be broken up or broken down?

By Simon Commander and Saul Estrin

23 Jun 2023 · 7 min read

informed Summary

  1. The connection between politicians and large business groups in Asia has been effective in boosting economic development, but has also led to a concentration of market power and rising income inequality.

LONDON – The recent turmoil around the Adani Group in India has renewed old debates about inappropriate connections between the country’s politicians and its biggest businesses. Similarly, Thailand’s recent election revealed widespread frustration toward a regime that appeared to have grown too cozy with the monarchy, the military, and business elites.

None of this is new in Asia. When Suharto was ousted from power in Indonesia 25 years ago, similar concerns bubbled to the surface, if only briefly. Now, ties between business groups and politicians are coming under scrutiny once again, and not a moment too soon. Market concentration has been deepening across the region as big, highly diversified business groups – most of them family-owned – come to occupy the commanding heights of national economies.

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