Sunil Mittal
Sunil Mittal in 2024
Born (1957-10-23) 23 October 1957 (age 66)
Alma materPunjab University[1]
OccupationFounder & chairman Bharti Enterprises
SpouseNyna Mittal
Children3 (incl. Kavin Bharti Mittal)
ParentSat Paul Mittal (father)
RelativesSharan Pasricha
AwardsPadma Bhusan
Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Sunil Bharti Mittal (born 23 October 1957) is an Indian billionaire businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises, which has diversified interests in telecom, insurance, real estate, education, malls, hospitality, Agri and food besides other ventures. Bharti Airtel, the group's flagship company is one of the world's largest and India's largest telecom company with operations in 18 countries across Asia and Africa with a customer base of over 399 million.[2] Bharti Airtel clocked revenues of over US$18 billion in FY2023. In 2023 he was ranked the 10th richest person in India by Forbes, with an estimated net worth of US$14.8 billion.[3]

In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honor.[4] On 15 June 2016, he was elected as Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce.[5]

Early life

Sunil Bharti Mittal was born in Ludhiana, Punjab into an Agarwal family.[6] His father, Sat Pal Mittal, had been a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha (Indian National Congress) from Ludhiana, Punjab. He first joined the Wynberg Allen School in Mussoorie,[7] but later attended Scindia School at Gwalior and he graduated in 1976 from Panjab University, Chandigarh, with a Bachelor of Arts and Science for which he studied in Arya College, Ludhiana.[8] His father died of cardiac arrest in 1992.[1]

Entrepreneurial ventures

A first-generation entrepreneur, Sunil started his first business in April 1976[9] at the age of 18, with a capital investment of 20,000 (US$240) borrowed from his father. His first business was to make crankshafts for local bicycle manufacturers.[10]

In 1980, he along with his brothers Rakesh Mittal and Rajan Mittal started an Import Enterprise named Bharti Overseas Trading Company.[7] He sold his bicycle parts and yarn factories and moved to Mumbai.[10] In 1981, he purchased importing licenses from exporting companies in Punjab.[9] He then imported thousands of Suzuki Motors's portable electric-power generators from Japan. The importing of generators was suddenly banned by the then Indian Government.

In 1984, he started assembling push-button phones in India,[9] which he earlier used to import from a Taiwan company, Kingtel, replacing the old fashioned, bulky rotary phones that were in use in the country then. Bharti Telecom Limited (BTL) was incorporated and entered into a technical tie up with Siemens AG of Germany for the manufacture of electronic push button phones. By the early 1990s, Sunil was making fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gear. Sunil says, "In 1983, the government imposed a ban on the import of gensets. I was out of business overnight. Everything I was doing came to a screeching halt. I was in trouble. The question then was: what should I do next? Then, opportunity came calling. While in Taiwan, I noticed the popularity of the push-button phone – something which India hadn't seen then. We were still using those rotary dials with no speed dials or redials. I sensed my chance and embraced the telecom business. I started marketing telephones, answering/fax machines under the brand name Beetel and the company picked up really fast.".[1] He named his first push-button phones as 'Mitbrau'.[7]

In 1992, he successfully bid for one of the four mobile phone network licenses auctioned in India.[1] One of the conditions for the Delhi cellular license was that the bidder have some experience as a telecom operator. So, Mittal clinched a deal with the French telecom group Vivendi. He was one of the first Indian entrepreneurs to identify the mobile telecom business as a major growth area. His plans were finally approved by the Government in 1994[9] and he launched services in Delhi in 1995, when Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was formed to offer cellular services under the brand name AirTel in 1997. Within a few years Bharti became the first telecom company to cross the 2-million mobile subscriber mark. Bharti also brought down the STD/ISD cellular rates in India under brand name 'Indiaone'.[9]

In May 2008, it emerged that Sunil Bharti Mittal was exploring the possibility of buying the MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company with coverage in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The Financial Times reported that Bharti was considering offering US$45 billion for a 100% stake in MTN, which would be the largest overseas acquisition ever by an Indian firm. However, both sides emphasize the tentative nature of the talks, while The Economist magazine noted, "If anything, Bharti would be marrying up," as MTN has more subscribers, higher revenues and broader geographic coverage.[11] However, the talks fell apart as MTN group tried to reverse the negotiations by making Bharti almost a subsidiary of the new company.[12] In May 2009, Bharti Airtel again confirmed that it was in talks with MTN and the companies agreed to discuss the potential transaction exclusively by 31 July 2009. Talks eventually ended without agreement, some sources stating that this was due to opposition from the South African government.[13]

In June 2010, Bharti led by Mittal acquired the African business of Zain Telecom for $10.7 billion (enterprise value) making it the largest ever acquisition by an Indian telecom firm.[14] In 2012, Bharti tied up with Wal-Mart, the US retail giant, to start a number of retail stores across India.[15] In 2014, Bharti planned to acquire Loop Mobile for INR 7 billion, but the deal was called off later.[16] His son Kavin Bharti Mittal is the CEO and founder of hike Messenger.[17]

In September 2010, Mittal's son, Shravin Mittal, joined Bharti Airtel as a manager having worked for Merrill Lynch in New York and Ernst & Young in London.[18]

In 2012, Mittal took Bharti Infratel public with an IPO that raised $760 million. Mittal noted that the sale, considered by many to be only a modest success, was a "strong endorsement from qualified investors".[19] The board was restructured ahead of the IPO with Mittal remaining as Chairman and Managing Director.[20] After the IPO, shares of Bharti Infratel dropped sharply at the commencement of trading.[21]

In 2013, Mittal was ordered to appear before a special Delhi court[21] to answer questions about the additional allocation of airwaves to certain companies. Allegations against Mittal state that there had been collusion with key telecoms officials in the government to illegally secure an extra spectrum. No charges were issued against Mittal, however the trial court judge noted that there was enough material on record to proceed.[22]

In late 2013, Mittal announced the acquisition of Warid Congo, making Bharti Airtel the largest telecoms provider in the Republic of Congo.[23]

In 2015, Sunil Mittal announced that he would be joining the board of Oneweb, a space internet company. Mittal was one of the investors in a $500 million investment round that included Coca-Cola, Virgin and Qualcomm.[24]

In 2016, Mittal made changes at Bharti Airtel to enable the company to compete against the launch of Jio.[25][26][27] in the race to become India's largest telecom company.

In 2017, Mittal announced "war on roaming" by scrapping charges for outgoing and incoming calls within India as well as international roaming charges.[28][29]


Mittal has also been working towards educating India through the Bharti Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises. The Foundation has established schools in villages across India and offers free quality education with free books, uniform and mid day meals to poor children.[30]

Satya Bharti School Program' – the Foundation's flagship program is running 254 schools in six States serving over 45,000 rural children, free of cost. The other educational initiatives including the – Satya Bharti School, Quality Support and Learning Centre Programs, are currently reaching out to over 350,000 underprivileged children in 11 states. Other Program of the Foundation making considerable impact among the underprivileged sections is – 'Satya Bharti Abhiyan' (Sanitation).

In 2017, the Bharti Family pledged 10% of their wealth (approx. Rs 70 billion) towards Philanthropy to set up Satya Bharti University, a world-class University to offer education to deserving youth from economically weaker sections of society

Mittal has been married "for decades" to Nyna Mittal, a philanthropist who focuses on education.[31] The couple has one daughter and two sons, who are twins, born August 31, 1987. The daughter, Eiesha Bharti Pasricha, a "lifestyle investor," lives in London with her husband, businessman Sharan Pasricha, and their two children.[32][33] One son, Kavin Bharti Mittal, is an entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Hike, a New Delhi-headquartered tech and internet startup.[34] The other son, Shravin Bharti Mittal, is the founder and CEO of Unbound, a London-based venture capital and private equity firm, and a director of Bharti Global Ltd, a London-headquartered firm in the Bharti corporate family. He was reportedly instrumental in the successful acquisition of OneWeb.[35] In April 2015, in Delhi, Shavrin married Sakshi Chhabra.[36]

Awards and recognition

Industry associations and affiliations


Global Trade


  1. ^ a b c d Nair, Vinod (22 December 2002). "Sunil Mittal speaking: I started with a dream". The Times of India.
  2. ^ "Airtel becomes third largest globally". 30 June 2015.
  3. ^ "India's 100 Richest People". Forbes. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  4. ^ "Sunil Mittal, Indra Nooyi get Padma Bhushan". Business Line. 27 January 2009. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Sunil Mittal becomes honorary chairman of International Chamber of Commerce". The Economic Times. 21 June 2018. ISSN 0013-0389. Retrieved 22 March 2024.
  6. ^ "Lunch with Rajan Bharti Mittal".
  7. ^ a b c Mittal, Airtel (July 2008). Pesu! (Tamil ed.). Kizhakku. p. 14. ISBN 978-81-8368-864-2.
  8. ^ "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Sunil Mittal TimesNow interview". Archived from the original on 6 July 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2010 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ a b Clay Chandler (17 January 2007). "Wireless Wonder: India's Sunil Mittal". CNN. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Emerging-market telecoms: Eyes on Africa". The Economist. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  12. ^ Heather Timmons (25 May 2008). "$50 Billion Telecom Deal Falls Apart". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  13. ^ James Middleton (1 October 2009). "Bharti and MTN have called off merger discussions once again". Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Bharti completes acquisition of Zain's Africa biz for $10.7bn". The Times of India. 8 June 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Wal-Mart May Open India Retail Stores Within Two Years". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 24 September 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  16. ^ "Airtel calls of deal to acquire Loop telecom". The Economic Times. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Sunil Mittal & family". Forbes. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  18. ^ Reuters Editorial. "Sunil Mittal's son joins Bharti Airtel, fuels succession talk". Reuters India. Retrieved 13 August 2017. ((cite news)): |author= has generic name (help)
  19. ^ "Bharti Infratel IPO raises $760m". Financial Times. Retrieved 13 August 2017.(subscription required)
  20. ^ "Bharti rejigs board ahead of tower arm IPO". Firstpost. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Bharti Infratel shares drop 13 percent in market debut". Reuters. 28 December 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  22. ^ Karmali, Naazneen. "Billionaires Sunil Mittal, Ravi Ruia Face Court Grilling in Telecom Probe". Forbes. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  23. ^ "India's Airtel continues Africa push with deal in Congo". Financial Times. Retrieved 13 August 2017.(subscription required)
  24. ^ "Oneweb secures $500m from Richard Branson, Coca-Cola and others". BOLSAMANIA. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  25. ^ Mankotia, Anandita Singh; Guha, Romit (21 September 2016). "We will increase revenue market share, says Sunil Mittal". The Economic Times. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  26. ^ "The Mukesh Ambani vs Sunil Bharti Mittal battle is really heating up!". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Sunil Mittal readies for 4G battle against Mukesh Ambani". Financial Times. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2017.(subscription required)
  28. ^ "No more bill shocks, vows Sunil Mittal as Airtel scraps roaming charges". Business Standard India. Press Trust of India. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  29. ^ "Mobile phone chief Sunil Mittal calls for end to roaming rates". Financial Times. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.(subscription required)
  30. ^ Suzanne McGee (30 November 2009). "The 25 Best Givers". Barron's. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  31. ^ Avantika (12 April 2019). "These billionaire wives are perfect combination of beauty and brains". Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  32. ^ MacDonald, Hugo. "This Stunning London House Is the Perfect Place to Put Down Family Roots". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  33. ^ Shinner, Josh (November 2019). "My Life, My Style". Harper's Bazaar Malaysia. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  34. ^ Balachandran, Manu (17 February 2020). "Can Kavin Bharti Mittal Save Hike?". Forbes India. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  35. ^ "Shravin Mittal shines as Bharti wins bid for satellite firm OneWeb". TelecomLead. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  36. ^ Gupte, Masoom. "Shravin Mittal weds school sweetheart Sakshi Chhabra". The Economic Times. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  37. ^ "Sunil Bharti Mittal". Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  38. ^ Video | Business leader transforming India: Sunil Mittal, retrieved 22 March 2024
  39. ^ "Sunil Mittal gets GSM Association Chairman's Award". The Economic Times. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  40. ^ "Sunil Mittal is Fortune's Asian businessman of the year". The Economic Times. 13 January 2007. ISSN 0013-0389. Retrieved 22 March 2024.
  41. ^ "Sunil Mittal is BS CEO of the Year". Rediff. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  42. ^ "Presenting the Jury for The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence 2020". The Economic Times. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  43. ^ "Sunil Mittal bags award". The Economic Times. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  44. ^ "Sunil Mittal gets INSEAD award". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  45. ^ "Airtel's Sunil Mittal, Paytm's Vijay Shekar given honorary degrees by Amity University". DNA
  46. ^ "ET Awards: Sunil Mittal, Mansukh Mandaviya get top honours, ICICI picked as company of the year". Economic Times. 22 February 2023. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  47. ^ "Sunil Bharti Mittal becomes first Indian citizen to be conferred an honorary Knighthood by Britain's King".
  48. ^ "GSMA Elects New Board Members and Elects Sunil Bharti Mittal as Chair – Newsroom". Newsroom. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  49. ^ "Chairmanship and Secretary General". ICC – International Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  50. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  51. ^ "Sunil Bharti Mittal". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  52. ^ "Sunil Mittal elected CII President". The Economic Times. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  53. ^ "GlobalGiants.Com - Elite Cultural Magazine: Annual Meeting 2007 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland - January 27, 2007 Events :". Retrieved 8 November 2018.