Who Is Lakshmi Mittal?

Lakshmi Mittal (1950) is the chair and CEO of ArcelorMittal and one of the world's wealthiest billionaires. He helped globalize the steel industry's business model.

Key Takeaways

  • Lakshmi Mittal is an Indian billionaire worth upwards of $12 billion as of 2019.
  • Mittal earned his fortune through founding his namesake steel company and continuing on as its CEO.
  • Mittal is a well-respected businessman around the globe who sits on various corporate boards and gives to philanthropic causes.

A Brief Biography of Lakshmi Mittal

Lakshmi Mittal was born to relatively modest origins. Mittal's career began by working for his father in his family's steel making business in India, where he acquired knowledge and experience in steel and related businesses. In 1976 he founded Mittal Steel Company, eventually merging with French steelmaker Arcelor in 2006 to form ArcelorMittal. In addition to his work in the steel industry, Mittal is a philanthropist and a member of numerous boards and trusts. He has held a seat on the board of Goldman Sachs since 2008.

Mittal opened and successfully ran his own steel mill, after which he began to acquire and reorganize failing, mostly state-run, mills around the world. His growth model emulated other global industries, such as car manufacturers and iron and coal companies. As part of his push to make his company a globalized player in the steel industry, he acquired companies in Canada, Germany, and Kazakhstan.

Evolution of Laksmi Mittal's businesses

In 2004, Mittal merged two of his companies: Ispat International and LNM Holdings. He then acquired the International Steel Group in Ohio, creating the new TMittal Steel Company N.V., which was then the world's largest steelmaker. In 2006, the company merged again with Arcelor to form ArcelorMittal. ArcelorMittal is the world's largest steel manufacturer, worth more than $100 billion.

Mittal acquired the Karmet Steel works in Temirtau, Kazakhstan, for $400 million. At the time, the former Soviet republic was in a financial mess and on the brink of bankruptcy. The move turned out to be beneficial, as Kazakhstan shares a border with China, where demand for steel was about to explode. This acquisition was a wise move for Mittal, vaulting him into the top echelons of steel production.

Mittal focused particularly on consolidation in the steel industry, which in many cases had become fragmented. Small steel companies were unable to make competitive deals with large clients, such as automakers, despite high demand. Mittal's company was in a good position to negotiate favorable prices with such companies as it controlled nearly 40% of the market for flat-rolled steel in America.