| Rising Sun: Changing hands'
London, June 11: Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has been shown around a mega-yacht on three occasions, thereby encouraging speculation that he may wish to buy it.
Reports say he has visited the Rising Sun, which is described as the biggest private yacht in the world and is owned by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison.
Spokesmen for the Indian businessman’s Mittal Steel Company will not discuss the matter but a member of the Indian jet-set said: “He’s into the biggest, brightest, brashest.”
The problem is that Mittal already has a yacht, which is sometimes used by his risen son, Aditya Mittal (who threw a party with his father in Cannes last month). It was also once moored outside Goa.
“Well,” suggested the source, “he could have a bigger yacht.”
Size does apparently matter to Mittal, whose Mittal Steel Company is already the biggest in the world and could grow even bigger.
He has the most expensive private residence in the world, in Kensington Palace Gardens, but has so far not moved in. The latest estimates suggest it was acquired for '60 million, though the renovations, currently under way, will cost extra.
He has justified use of his private jet because he needs to do meetings in different cities in one day, which would not be possible with commercial flights. In any case, the list of Indians with private jets is growing all the time.
The Hindujas have replaced their old yacht, Param Jamuna I, with Param Jamuna II, so it is possible Mittal does not want to sail in their wake.
Perhaps he is interested in the Rising Sun or having one built that is similar in design.
“Mittal has been shown around the boat three times this year,” a highly placed source told The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s 138 metres (452 ft) long and, while there are bigger models currently in design, Rising Sun is the biggest private yacht in the world. Ellison hasn’t directly put it up for sale, but he’s made it known that he’s open to offers, somewhere just over the $200-million mark. It’s safe to say only serious players need apply.”
Ellison apparently ordered his yacht stretched by 65 ft during construction specifically to outdo a 414-ft vessel being built by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Among yachting enthusiasts there has been much speculation about the design and power of the Rising Sun, which has been built in a yard in America. One reported: “The Rising Sun will have the power that’s equal to a corvette class warship, and it would be the biggest and most powerful engines that’s ever fitted into a private yacht.”
Generally speaking, Indians are not into sailing because they get seasick very easily. Among those who, do possibly the most skilled of the lot is Srichand Hinduja’s brother, Gopi.
Mittal is starting to appear regularly in British gossip columns and may one day soon invite Hello! into his charming home/homes/jet/yacht/boardroom. But to be fair to Mittal and especially his wife, Usha, they are involved in various charities in Rajasthan, where the Mittal family originated well before Partition. But such activities get scant attention in the British press where Mittal remains best known as the man who gave '125,000 to the Labour Party.