The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Merger moulds steel superman

London, Oct. 25: Lakshmi Mittal is set to become officially the world's largest steelmaker, it was announced today.

His output, which can be anything up to 63 million tonnes of liquid steel, will overtake that of his closest rival, the French company, Arcelor, which last year produced 42.8 million tonnes.

At 54, Mittal, who was once a hard working commerce student at St Xavier's College in Calcutta, once the family's base, has achieved in global terms what no other Indian has done before.

Though he will continue to live in London, his new company, to be known simply as the Mittal Steel Company, will be registered in Rotterdam and be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He hangs on to his Indian passport of which he is inordinately proud.

Mittal has chosen to make his move now towards further 'consolidation and globalisation' because of the increasing worldwide demand for steel.

'The steel industry has been booming for the last couple of years,' said one of Mittal's spokesmen in London. 'China has been sucking up steel production and people now say India will become the new China.'

Under the arrangements announced today in New York, the LNM Group, which consisted of Ispat International and LNM Holdings, is being restructured.

'Ispat International is buying LNM Holdings and, as a result, there will be no Ispat International in future, no LNM Holdings, but a new entity called the Mittal Steel Company,' his spokesman said.

As a separate part of the deal, an American company, ISG (the International Steel Group), with a capacity to produce about 15 million metric tonnes, has been bought by Ispat International, which, in turn, is being subsumed into the newly formed Mittal Steel.

A formal statement from New York said: 'The combined Mittal Steel will be the largest and most global steel company in the world and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Euronext Amsterdam.'

The statement added that 'LNM Holdings (a private company) is one of the world's largest and most profitable steel companies and also has substantial mining assets. LNM Holdings believes it has opportunities to achieve additional growth and cost reductions, particularly at recent acquisitions.'

Mittal hit the headlines in June when he lavished a reported '30million on the wedding of his daughter, Vanisha, in France. He paid Shah Rukh Khan an estimated '300,000 to fly over and perform at a 'Bollywood night' in Paris.

The Australian singer, Kylie Minogue, was also paid a handsome, although undisclosed fee. Aishwarya Rai came, too.

Early next year, Mittal and his wife, Usha, move from The Summer Palace in The Bishops' Avenue, Hampstead, into a new home at 18/19 Kensington Palace Gardens, which is currently being refurbished. It was purchased for '70million, making it the most expensive private residence in the world.

Mittal claims that getting to be the world's number one steelmaker wasn't his aim. 'If I get to number one, as I hope I will, I will be happy, but that's not my priority,' Mittal remarked recently. 'I want LNM to be a world class institution.'

He admits he loves putting on a hard hat and braving the heat of steel furnaces. 'I have been to hundreds of steel plants in my life -- I love visiting them,' he has let slip on more than one occasion.

He has steel interests in Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Canada, Germany, France, Kazakhstan, Romania, Algeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Macedonia, Bosnia, the Czech Republic, the US, Poland and China and has said that 'we have India very much on our radar screen -- we are looking for opportunities'.

He has a private Gulf Steam jet to take him to meetings and often does three cities in one day and not necessarily in the same country, either.

He has won high praise from his peers. America's Wall Street Journal has called him the 'Andrew Carnegie of the brave new world in the global steel industry' (Carnegie was the Scottish father of the business).

His personal wealth is put at '3.5 billion, according to Phillip Beresford who compiles the rich list for The Sunday Times.

Mittal's spokesman said that his boss was looking for new acquisitions. 'He believes the major three or four steel makers in the world should be able to produce between 80-100 million tonnes each. So watch this space.'

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