Speed Dialing

Time passes slowly in India, but not for Sunil Mittal. Four years ago, the 45-year-old entrepreneur was a bit player in the Indian telecommunications market, the owner of cellular franchises in Delhi and the small neighboring state of Himachal Pradesh. Total customer base: 116,000. Today, his Bharti Tele-Ventures is the largest mobile phone company on the subcontinent. Customer base: 2.5 million. He recently wrapped up a $1 billion expansion that quadrupled the size of his network in less than a year. Mittal even completed an acquisition of a competitor—from initial offer to signed contract—in 48 hours. "Our biggest weapon," Mittal says,...

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