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India's B.K. Syngal (Int'l Edition)

Asian Cover -- Managers

INDIA'S B.K. SYNGAL (int'l edition)

Officially, B.K. Syngal's title is chairman of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), India's monopoly international long-distance carrier. Unofficially, the 58-year-old Syngal is known as The Bulldozer, for his ability to crash through one bureaucratic barrier after another.

India could use more managers like Syngal. Since 1991, the year he took charge, VSNL has expanded from a $125 million company with one product, international long-distance phone service, into a $1.65 billion giant also offering Internet, leased-line, and data services.

Service has dramatically improved, profits have grown 20% annually, and the company is now much better prepared for 2004, when it will lose its monopoly franchise and face competition. Syngal is a tough boss: He posts notices chastising employees for a videoconferencing glitch or for losing a lucrative contract. But his employees know that in India's state sector, they are working for the guy who gets things done.

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