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Lakshmi Mittal takes power in ArcelorMittal

Latest update : 2008-05-13

Two years after Arcelor and Mittal steel merged, ArcelorMittal Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal has replaced Joseph Kinsch as chairman of the steelmaker on Tuesday.

LUXEMBOURG - ArcelorMittal Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal became chairman of the steelmaker on Tuesday, increasing his control over the company.

Two years after the end of the takeover battle that finally led to the friendly purchase of Arcelor by Mittal Steel, tycoon Mittal achieved his ambition of leading a company that produces over 100 million tonnes of steel a year and is about three times bigger than its nearest rival.

"I could not have asked for a better chairman during the time of integration," Mittal told the company's annual shareholder meeting, referring to former rival Joseph Kinsch.

Kinsch, who presided over Arcelor since its creation in 2002 from a threeway merger between French, Spanish and Luxembourg steel groups, will head a foundation that aims to defend the company's values.

Mittal and his family together own over 43 percent of the steel group as of March 20, but he is thought to have increased his stake since. His son Aditya is ArcelorMittal's chief financial officer.

Mittal set up his first steel plant in Indonesia in 1976 at a time when many had written off the steel industry.

He went on to become one of the world's richest men by transforming ailing steel mills around the world into money spinners by cutting costs, with economies of scale and by selling higher-value products into a growing market.

ArcelorMittal, which accounts for about 10 percent of the world's steel output, has a market capitalisation close to 90 billion euros ($139.1 billion) and has seen the value of its shares rise more than 65 percent in the past year.

It has achieved $1.4 billion of takeover synergies so far, well in sight of its $1.6 billion target for 2008.

Since its creation ArcelorMittal has made consolidation its effective motto, with a flurry of investments and acquisitions in developing countries such as Senegal, India, Russia and China. It also announced last week that it was considering investing up to $10 billion in Indonesia.
The group is seeking to raise its own iron ore production to 75 percent of consumption in the coming years, a goal announced before BHP Billiton announced its plan to acquire rival Rio Tinto.

The company, which produces first-quarter results on Wednesday, has given a guidance for core profit of $4.7-$5.0 billion, above the $4.3 billion it posted during the same period last year and in line with its fourth-quarter performance.

A Reuters poll of analysts gave an average forecast of $5.06 billion.

A small group of militants held a protest in front of the group's headquarters in Luxembourg criticising the steelmaker's social and environmental impact.
"The uncontrolled growth of this steel giant often at the expense of people's health in a rapidly globalising world has given people common cause for resistance," a leaflet handed out to shareholders read.

Date created : 2008-05-13