Who is 'Lakshmi Mittal'

Lakshmi Mittal is the chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal and one of the world's wealthiest billionaires. Mittal is credited with helping to globalize the steel industry's business model.

BREAKING DOWN 'Lakshmi Mittal'

Mittal's career began by working in his family's steel making business in India, and he has since acquired more than 30 years of 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 is a member of numerous boards and trusts. He has held a seat on the board of Goldman Sachs since 2008.

After opening and learning to successfully operate his own steel mill, he began making a series of acquisitions all around the world, purchasing failing, mostly state-run outfits and sending in special management teams to reorganize the businesses. He realized that in order to truly grow the company he would have to take it global, just like car manufacturers, ship builders, iron and coal producers. Determined to make his company a global player, he started acquiring companies in Canada and Germany. Eventually, he turned to Kazakhstan.

At the time, the former Soviet republic was in a financial mess and on the brink of bankruptcy. Mittal acquired the country’s Karmet Steel works in Temirtau for a bargain price of $400 million. Kazakhstan happens to share a border with China, where demand for steel was about to explode. That single acquisition turned out to be a very wise strategic investment as it propelled Mittal into the big league of international steel makers. 

Mittal’s business philosophy emphasized consolidation in an industry that had become weak and fragmented. Although demand for steel remained high, smaller steel companies had been unable to strike competitive deals with their major clients, notably automakers and appliance manufacturers. Mittal’s company, however, controlled about 40 percent of the American market for the flat-rolled steel used to make cars, which allowed the giant steelmaker to negotiate more favorable prices. 

Evolution of Laksmi Mittal's businesses

In 2004 Mittal merged his companies, Ispat International and LNM Holdings, and acquired Ohio-based International Steel Group. The newly created company, Mittal Steel Company N.V., emerged from the deal as the world’s largest steelmaker. Two years later, Mittal oversaw another merger when Mittal Steel joined with Arcelor to form ArcelorMittal. Today, ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steelmaking company. The company is worth more than $100 billion and employs more than 300,000 workers in 60 countries.

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