Mittal Steel 'will be years ahead of its rivals'

Lakshmi Mittal said his self-named steel giant will be years ahead of his rivals after taking over European steel maker Arcelor SA, as he unveiled plans to invest up to $9bn (€7bn) in his native India.

Lakshmi Mittal said his self-named steel giant will be years ahead of his rivals after taking over European steel maker Arcelor SA, as he unveiled plans to invest up to $9bn (€7bn) in his native India.

The investment in the eastern state of Orissa is part of Mittal’s strategy to look to China and India for growth – a vision that he said was shared by Arcelor.

Last month, Arcelor’s board approved a $32bn (€25bn) bid by family-run Mittal Steel after a long-drawn-out takeover battle.

If the acquisition goes through, the merged entity – Arcelor-Mittal – will be the world’s largest steel company, four times the size of its nearest rival, Japan’s Nippon Steel. The new company will operate 60 plants in 27 countries with the capacity to produce 120 million tons of steel annually, Mittal has said.

“This (acquisition) will put us seven to eight years ahead of the competition,” Mittal said yesterday.

Arcelor shareholders have until July 13 to accept the offer, which needs to win 50% of the shares for its bid to succeed. If the offer goes through, the stock swap should take place August 1.

Mittal said he is not worried about the transaction going through even though only 2.4% of Arcelor shareholders had accepted his offer as of Friday.

“Most of them will tender their shares around July 13,” he predicted.

Earlier yesterday, Mittal travelled to Orissa, where he outlined plans to build a steel plant that would produce 12 million tons of steel annually.

Mittal said he plans to invest $6.7bn (€5.2bn) to $9bn (€7bn) in the Orissa project – his first in India – and is confident the proposal will be backed by the board of Arcelor-Mittal, should the takeover go through.

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