That company, Bharti Enterprises, has grown up to be one of India's leading private telecom service providers. With sales of $300 million and operating income of $53 million in 2000, Bharti is the largest private fixed-line operator in India. And it controls 20% of the mobile communications market. Mittal, 43, got his big chance when he bought three telecom licenses in southern India for $225 million in 1999--and later snagged a total 40% investment from Singapore Telecom and New York-based investment fund Warburg Pincus. His next act: a $200 million IPO this fall. Mittal wants to build a nationwide private phone giant. He just may do it.
He may be India's most ambitious telecom entrepreneur. The privileged son of a parliamentarian, Sunil Mittal didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. So after graduating from Punjab University, he ended up forming his own tiny bicycle business in the 1970s.