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  • Born: 23 October 1957
  • Profession / Position /: Founder and President of Bharti Group

Sunil Bharti Mittal is an Indian industrialist, social worker and chairman of Airtel, India’s largest telecom company. His name is among the few telecom entrepreneurs in the world. Airtel provides GSM mobile service as well as internet broadband services and around 200 million subscribers are covered by it.

Sunil Mittal Early Life

Sunil was born in 1957 in Ludhiana district of Punjab. His father Satpal Mittal was a politician and was a Member of Parliament twice from Lok Sabha and once from Rajya Sabha. He got his early education from Winburg Allen School in Mussoorie and later Scindia School in Gwalior. In 1976, he graduated from Punjab University.

Sunil Mittal Carrier

At the age of just 18, he started his business. He started a small bicycle business with his friends for a mere Rs 20,000 and started making bicycle parts for Brajmohan Munjal’s Hero Cycle Company. After this he felt that this business could not be very big and in collaboration with his brothers established ‘Bharti Overseas Trading Company’. He sold his bicycle and other trades and moved to Mumbai. In 1981, he bought an ‘import license’ from exporters of Punjab and then started selling portable generators imported from Japan.

Sunil Mittal Business

This business gave him a lot of experience in marketing and selling goods. Gradually, this business also froze and everything started going well, but a policy change of the government brought this business to a standstill. This was a period of license-raj and the government prohibited the import of generators, as two Indian companies were given licenses to manufacture generators in the country.

Sunil took a lesson from this incident that whenever such an opportunity comes next, he will be ready to grab it and this opportunity came in the year 1992 when the government was distributing license for mobile phone service for the first time. Sunil seized that opportunity and all history is ahead of him.

Also Read More Biography –: Lakshmi Mittal

Prior to 1992, Sunil had set up Bharti Telecom Limited (BTL) in 1986 and entered into an agreement with AG Siemens Company of Germany to manufacture push button phones. He gradually expanded his business and by the 1990s, Sunil’s company was manufacturing fax machines, cordless phones and other telecommunications equipment.

In 1992, the Government of India began licensing mobile phone services for the first time; Sunil Mittal, in collaboration with French telecom conglomerate Vivendi, obtained cellular licenses in Delhi as well as some other areas. In 1995, Sunil Mittal established Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) to offer cellular services and started operations under the brand Airtel. Soon, Airtel became the first telecom company to cross the 2 lakh mobile subscriber mark.

In 2008–2009, Bharti Telecom tried to acquire MTN, a South African-based telecom group, but despite several rounds of negotiations, no agreement could be reached between the two companies.

In June 2010, Bharti Telecom under the leadership of Mittal acquired the South African telecom company “Jain Telecom”. One was the largest acquisition ever by any Indian telecom company.

In 2012, Bharti signed an agreement with US company Wal-Mart to open retail stores across India, but it did not last long and the deal ended in October 2013.

Bharti also announced the purchase of “Loop Mobile” in 2014 for about Rs 400 crore, but later canceled the deal.

Awards and honors

  • 2007: Government of India awarded Padma Bhushan.
  • In 2006, Fortune magazine awarded “Asia Businessman of the Year”
  • Voice and Data selected “Telecom Man of the Year” in 2006
  • ‘CEO of the Year’ at Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific ICT Awards, 2006.
  • Best Asian Telecom CEO at Telecom Asia Awards, 2005.
  • “Best CEO” in India Institutional Investor, 2005.
  • “Business Leader of the Year” of The Economic Times, 2005
  • “Philanthropist of the Year” at the Asian Awards, 2010.