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Billionaire Mittal's Airtel Falters in War With Ambani's Jio

  • Indian carrier eking out profit bolstered by one-time gains
  • Earnings signal trouble for company with $17 billion in debt
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In a war for the control of India’s billion-plus mobile-services market, tycoon Sunil Mittal seems to be floundering in the face of a juggernaut unleashed by Mukesh Ambani.

For at least a fourth quarter in a row, Mittal’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. shored up its profits with one-time gains, masking headwinds posed by upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. Jio’s roll-out, after its 2016 debut, has knocked Airtel from its perch in a consolidation that shrank the industry to three players from about a dozen four years ago.