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The Life and Times of The King of Steel- Lakshmi Mittal

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Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, currently based in London, is born on 15th June 1950 in Sadalpur, a village in Rajasthan. Currently, the chairman and CEO of Arcelor Mittal and the 85th richest man in the world was deprived of basic necessities in his childhood. Today, one can say without hesitation that he has come a long way to now own a company that is the largest producer of steel in the world.

The Steel Magnet’s Early Life and Career

Early- Stage of Lakshmi Mittal’s Career

Born to Mohanlal Mittal, a Marwari Businessman who owned Nippon Denro Ispat, a steel manufacturing unit, L.N Mittal did his schooling in Kolkata. He did his bachelor’s in Commerce from St Xavier’s, Kolkata, and at the same time worked at his father’s company to gain experience and knowledge.

Setting Up His Firm

After graduating in 1970, he interned at a mill which further gave him enough knowledge and experience to open his steel manufacturing in Indonesia. He stayed focused and spent over a decade learning how to effectively run the mill. Gradually, he started expanding his business by buying firms that are on losses and work on it to make them profitable. Instead of opting for a greenfield strategy, he chose brownfield, to save time. Mittal acquired the state-owned steel industry in Trinidad and Tobago in 1989, which was in a huge loss at that time. It was his hard work, which made the firm profitable as well as doubled the output in a year. 

A Step Towards Becoming the Steel Magnate

The philosophies used by Mittal in business emphasized mergers in the steel industry which was earlier fragmented and weak. The smaller steel industries were not able to strike a deal with their major clients that includes appliance manufacturers as well as automakers despite steel being in huge demand. The 40 per cent of the flat-rolled steel used to manufacture cars in the American markets use to come from Mittal’s company.

He acquired International Steel Group based in Ohio and merged his firms, LNM Holdings, and Ispat Internationals in the year 2004. “Mittal Steel Co. NV”, which was also Lakshmi Mittal steel company, a new firm, emerged as the largest steel manufacturer in the world. In 2006, he acquired Arcelor and later merged it with Mittal Steel to form ArcelorMittal. As of December 2020, Lakshmi Mittal’s Net worth is USD 1700 crores.

“The Cash for Affair” Controversy of Lakshmi Mittal

Adam Price, a British parliament member in the year 2002 brought out a controversial connection between Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of the UK then, and Lakshmi Niwas Mittal. This affair was later referred to as the ‘Cash for Influence’ or ‘Garbagegate’

Price came across a letter written to the Government of Romania by Tony Blair in favour of LNM, a steel company owned by Mittal. LNM at that time was in the process of bidding to acquire Romania’s state-owned steel industry. This entire process became very controversial as it got linked to Mittal donating USD 125000 in 2001 to Blair’s Labour Party. Despite Blair, trying to defend the letter written by him as “Celebrating the success” of the British firm but was instead criticized as LNM was listed in the Dutch Antilles and not even 1 per cent of his workforce was British.

It is said that in his letter, Tony hinted about how smooth the entry of the Romanians into the EU can become by selling it to Mittal and further privatizing it. In his letter, he even referred to Mittal, as his friend.

Related Article: Ratan Tata- His Success Story An Inspiration for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs

L.N Mittal’s Recognitions

He has been serving as a member of the board of director of the prestigious firm, Goldman Sachs since 2008 and also that of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company. He holds an important and prestigious position in the World Steel Association’s executive committee, the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, the Foreign Investment Council in Kazakhstan, the Presidential International Advisory Board of Mozambique and the Indian Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council.

Mittal Philanthropies

L.N Mittal is not just a successful businessman but also an active philanthropist.

 Contribution to Sports

Looking at the fact that India received only one medal each in The Olympics held in 2000 and 2004, Mittal decided to contribute USD 9 million to set up the ‘Mittal Champions Trust’ and support ten athletes from India with the highest potentials. He awarded INR 1.5 crore in 2008 to Abhinav Bindra, as he was the one who got the first to bring India a gold medal in shooting. For the 2012 Summer Olympics, his company ArcelorMittal, contributed steel to build ArcelorMittal Orbit.

In 2007, he bought 20 per cent of the ‘Queens Park Rangers football club’ shares to join Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. He invested by making Amit Bhatia, his son-in-law a member of the board of directors. In 2010, he sold his share to Ecelstone and resigned from his position of chairman in QPR. Ecclestone became the largest single shareholder on buying the shares from Mittal.

Contribution to Medical and Education

L.N Mittal along with the government of Rajasthan as well as the Usha Mittal foundation in 2003 came together in Jaipur to establish the LNM Institute of Information Technology (LNMIIT) which was an autonomous NPO.

His donation to “Great Ormond Street Hospital” in London of £15 million in 2008 for establishing the “Mittal Children’s Medical Centre” was the largest private donation, a hospital ever received.

He helped to begin the Usha Lakshmi Mittal Institute of Management in New Delhi in 2009.

The L.N Mittal foundation made a large contribution to Technology for Women (ITW) to the SNDT Women’s University after which it was renamed as Usha Mittal Institute of Technology (UMIT)

A donation of INR100 crores was made by Mittal during the COVID 2019 Pandemic to Prime Minister cares fund in 2020.

Conclusion

Today, in London, with Lakshmi Mittal net worth 1,790 crores USD (Forbes, 2021), he is one of the most influential and wealthy citizens and also known for his lavish lifestyle. In 2004, he organized his daughter’s wedding function in the Place of Versailles, which was the first private event held there. Laxmi Mittal owns one of the most expensive houses located in 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens which has 12 bedrooms in it. The marbles used for decoration in his house is the same that is used in the Taj Mahal as well as extracted from the same mine from where Shah Jahan bought it.

Lakshmi Mittal’s success story makes everyone realizes that not everyone needs to be born with a silver spoon to become successful.

Also Read: The Man Behind ‘Infosys’ – Narayan Murthy

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Daniyel Chatterjee
Daniyel Chatterjee is a Young Researcher in the field of Data Science & Analytics having research experience of more than 8 years. He has a Masters in Computer Engineering and currently serves as an Editorial Assistant in IGI Global, United States of America. Daniyel also holds honorary positions in the Associate Member of Institute of Research Engineers and Doctors, International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology, International Association of Engineers, Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communications.

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