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The undisputed king of steel, Lakshmi Narayan Mittal is the Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal (founder of Mittal before merger with Arcelor). In 2005, he was the third richest man in the world according to the Forbes business magazine. With a staggering fortune of over USD 38.1 billion he has king-sized ambitions to make his company a true global behemoth. He also serves as a non-executive director of Goldman Sachs, EADS and ICICI Bank. Mittal still holds an Indian passport.

Mittal was born on June 15, 1950 in a Marwari Aggrawal family in the Churu district of Rajasthan. He spent his initial years in India living with his extended family on bare floors and rope beds in a house built by his grandfather. Studying primarily in a Hindi medium school Mittal graduated from St. Xavier’s College in Calcutta with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Business and Accounting in 1969. His family eventually moved to Calcutta where his father, Mohan, became a partner in a steel company and made a fortune.

Mr. Mittal kickstarted his career working in the family’s steelmaking business in India, and in 1976 he took a plunge to establish the business international division by buying a run-down plant in Indonesia. Starting from Ispat Indo in Indonesia, Mittal transformed the moderate business of his family into a global steel giant, spanning across 14 countries and employing more than 150,000 people.

The companies of the LNM Ispat group included Ispat international NV, Ispat Karmet and Indo Ispat. In 1994 due to some differences with his family members he parted ways, taking over the international operations of the Mittal steel business, which was already owned by the family. The reason for the split is still not known.

With his vision and hard work, Mittal pioneered the development of integrated mini-mills and the use of Direct Reduced Iron or “DRI” as a scrap substitute for steelmaking and led the consolidation process of the global steel industry. In 2004 Mittal Steel became the largest steelmaker in the world, with shipments of 42.1 million tons of steel and profits of over USD 22 billion.

From the core business of steel manufacturing, his group is now diversifying into shipping, coal, and power and oil enterprises. The most astonishing thing about the steel magnate is his knack of buying sick and rusted steel companies and turning them into gold.

He made his big-ticket entry into the lucrative European market and acquired the massive 5 million ton Kazakh steel plant, Karmet from the government of Kazakhastan. Mittal introduced new technology and transformed it. His trademark was to buy old rundown steel mills from governments at throwaway prices and then turn them into gold. Between 2001 and 2004 takeover of plants in Romania, the Czech Republic and Poland followed.

Mittal became the world’s largest steel maker when he took over the US’ largest steel producer – the International Steel Group. He then consolidated all his steel holdings into Mittal Steel. The year 2005 saw a tug of war between Mittal and Arcelor as both bid for Ukraine’s largest steel mill – Kryvorizhstal.

Mittal beat Arcelor to the 4.8 billion dollar deal, at more than twice what analysts had valued Kryvorizhstal. Less than three months later, Mittal launched his takeover bid of Arcelor. His idea was to eliminate any future messy battles. The rest is history.

Mittal Steel has grown from strength to strength and is today the world’s largest steel producer at 70 million tonnes a year. Now with 10 per cent of the world’s notoriously fragmented steel making capacity, Mittal is undoubtedly the ‘Sultan of steel’.

His charisma also made him won many awards and accolades. Mittal was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the government of India in 2008. Fortune magazine awarded him “European Businessman of the Year 2004” and also “Steelmaker of the Year” in 1996 by New Steel. He was awarded the “Willy Korf Steel Vision Award” in 1998 for outstanding vision, entrepreneurship, leadership and success in global steel development from American Metal Market and PaineWeber’s World Steel Dynamics. In 2006, Financial Times named him “Person of the Year”. In 2007, Time magazine included him in their “100 most influential persons in the world”.

The Mittal family owns a controlling majority stake in ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company. His residence at Kensington Palace Gardens was purchased from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2004 for 57 million, making it the world’s most expensive house, at that time. It has 12 bedrooms, an indoor pool, Turkish baths and parking for 20 cars. The extravagant show of wealth has been referred to as the “Taj Mittal”.

An active philanthropist Mittal is a member of a few trusts. ArcelorMittal also has a very active CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme under which it produces Safe Sustainable Steel. The company also operates the ArcelorMittal Foundation, which provides support to many different community projects around the world in the countries it operates.

Seeing the plight of sports in India Mittal in a bid to elevate it has set up Mittal Champions Trust with USD 9 million to support 10 Indian athletes with world-beating potential. In 2008 Mittal awarded Abhinav Bindra with Rs. 1.5 Crore, for getting India its first individual Olympic gold medal in shooting. His institute The L.N.M. Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur is producing engineers since 2003.

At the age of 61, the London-based steel tycoon runs ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel manufacturer and holds steel assets in South Africa, Poland, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan. Describing India as one of the ”most interesting places” the steel magnate has expressed his views to focus on developing economies, mainly India, for its new factory plans and would like to see more speed and execution in Indian policies.

He asserts, “I think India will have a very important role going forward. There’s a lot of domestic potential to grow and it is much more liberal and open for foreign investors. India needs a lot of industrialisation, a lot of growth and development. But, with its demographic of younger generation, I am very confident of India’s future in the world space.”