The keynote session of the 3GSM Congress had the four top Asians in telecom sparring with one another. Sunil Mittal, Airtel's chief, Arun Sarin, Vodafone's chief executive, Sanjiv Ahuja, who heads Orange, and Naquib Sawaris, chairman and CEO of the Egyptian telecom major Orascom were all together on stage.
Sawaris sprang the first surprise by revealing that he was only part Egyptian. "I am half Pakistani," he declared. "That makes me an Asian too." At his combative best, he remarked to Sarin, " It's good to learn you have made a big investment in India, but in terms of subscribers and investment I am equal to you. I hold a big stake in Mobilink in Pakistan. So I've been in the region well before you."
Sarin could only smile in response, as the large audience clapped and laughed.
Sawaris's next target was Ahuja, when the latter claimed he would get 100 million subscribers through his operations in different countries in Africa. Sawaris quipped, "You don't even have a private jet like me. How will you manage the travelling?" Ahuja was left looking blank, his mumbling reply drowned in the laughter and clapping.
But Mittal had the last laugh, "I will do 100 million in one country," he said softly.
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