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March 31, 2005

Sunil Bharti Mittal planning to incubate start-ups

Business Standard has an article on Bharti Group founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal's future plans, which includes an equity fund to invest in new ventures outside the group. According to the article, Mittal plans to step down as executive chairman of Bharti Televentures, the group's telecom business, when he turns 50 in three years time. He is, in parallel, working on growing the group's non-telecom initiatives (including especially, agriculture), which will be his focus area after he retires.

An Extract:
Already, Mittal is charting a new course. Not content with being telecom's tycoon, he is giving shape to a new thrust in non-telecom businesses. A decade from now, he reckons, telecom may no longer be the largest slice in the Bharti pie.

Over the next three months Mittal hopes to float an equity fund with a large corpus (the extent of which is still being decided, though Mittal says money is not a problem), that will be used to fund new businesses in emerging areas, to be run by others.

This last is important because it points to the direction -- and role -- Mittal is carving for himself.

As the group has limited management time and can't get into too many new businesses on its own, it will fund others instead. "We can invest anything up to 74 per cent, or only 26 per cent, function as an incubator for entrepreneurs with new ideas. . . the scope is endless."

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.