He moves fast. Parliament had scarcely cleared the New Telecom Policy last autumn that Sunil Mittal was on the prowl. Within weeks, hed scooped up JT Mobile, the cellular service provider in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, for Rs 400 crore. The ink hadnt even dried on that agreement when he was busy finalising another to buy out SkyCell, Chennais cellular provider, for Rs 125 crore. From the time the Bharti group thought of acquisitions in the south, to their completion, it took only one-and-a-half months. And earlier this month, Mittal threw the isp world into a tizzy when he began offering free Mantra Online connections to Airtel phone owners in Madhya Pradesh. Theres more to come. "Our next move will be acquisitions and greenfield projects in western India. That way well be covering most of the country," says Mittal, chairman of the Rs 1,000-crore Bharti group.
Telecom is the only game he knows, and thats how he plays it. Fast and with passion. "The earth moves below your feet every day. You have to keep pace," says the 42-year-old who wants to rule Indian telecom. Just how does he plan to do it? "We have everything but a listing on a stock exchange. I need the stock as a currency for further growth. We are a solid story, not one of those fluffy dotcom valuations." Indeed, it isnt. His Delhi cellular operations alone are worth $400 million.