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Mittal is 'Europe Businessman of the Year': Fortune

Last updated on: January 27, 2005 12:50 IST
Non-resident Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has been named Fortune magazine's 'Europe Businessman of the Year' in recognition of his ability to combine managerial savvy with superb acquisitive instincts.

With his recent takeover of International Steel Group, a U.S. company that had been controlled by Investor Wilbur Ross - Mittal's company will become the world's largest steel producer, with pro forma shipments last year of 57 million tonnes, revenues of $31.5 billion, and profits of $6. 8 billion.

Mittal Steel is also the world's most geographically diverse steel giant, stretching from central Asia through Africa and Europe to Central and North America. Mittal's deal making and steel-making last year led to him being named 'Europe Businessman of the year,' Fortune stated in its latest issue with a lead story titled "Metal Man".

"The ISG deal represents Mittal's great leap forward in his bid to become the Henry Ford of 21st century steel, not only dominating but transforming how an entire industry operates," said Fortune writer Richard Tomlinson.

The deal with Ross gives Mittal the steel-making heft in the US that he previously lacked.

"Mittal is convinced that the 21st century steel industry, like the 20th century auto industry, will consolidate around three or four super-efficient heavyweights, with his own group in the vanguard," Tomlinson stated.

"What makes Mittal so unusual in the steel business," said Tomlinson, "is his ability to combine managerial savvy with superb acquisitive instincts. Forget about luck: Mittal is the king of global steel because he spotted potential riches where his rivals only saw dross."

With the ISG deal, "Mittal is moving into relatively unfamiliar territory," said Tomlinson. "The acquisition helps shift the weight of his business away from the production of low-grade steel in developing and post-communist countries and towards more profitable high-end steel for customers, like automobile manufacturers, in advanced economies."

Mittal is confident he can overcome any hurdles - including potential problems with America's powerful United Steelworkers Union - and is already setting his sights on China, where the challenges will be more daunting.

Recent exploratory moves "fall well short of his aim to achieve management control of a major Chinese player," said Tomlinson. "But if anyone has the stamina and patience to pry open China's steel market, it's Mittal."  

H S Rao
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