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India high on priority, but investment difficult

Regulatory hurdles and land acquisition problems may have delayed his plans to invest in India’s steel sector, but the country continues to be on the priority list of the largest steel making company in the world, ArcelorMittal chairman LN Mittal said on Sunday. Anupama Airy reports. India vision: Steel and energy

business Updated: Apr 30, 2012 00:58 IST
Anupama Airy

Regulatory hurdles and land acquisition problems may have delayed his plans to invest in India’s steel sector, but the country continues to be on the priority list of the largest steel making company in the world, ArcelorMittal chairman LN Mittal said on Sunday.


“India is very clearly on our priority list even though it may have slipped very low in our investment list due to approvals not coming,” Mittal said. “I am a little bit concerned and do feel bad when delays take place but I am not giving up now.”

Mittal said his company is now focusing on countries such as Canada, Brazil and Liberia, where there are better growth opportunities. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/4/30_04_biz-01.jpg

He said that ArcelorMittal being a large organisation follows a “very rigorous capital allocation process,” and if there is no progress then that project goes down in the list of capital allocation by the company, which accordingly shifts to another investment opportunity that can fetch better returns for the shareholders.

“My success lies in giving returns to the shareholders… and I do what is right for my stakeholders,” he said.

Stating that no two projects are similar, Mittal said, “It took us over 600 approvals for commissioning the refinery project and although we dealt with three states, this project stands commissioned ahead of our steel projects that were planned much before.”

“So every project has its own problems and we have to address each project differently. Just because the refinery project happened first, I can’t say this project is better or worse than my other steel projects.”

“The progress may not have been in line with what I would have liked but my group’s commitment to India is there and this is clear from the investment in the Rs 21,500 crore Bhatinda refinery project that has been commissioned on Saturday,” he added.

Commenting on the slow pace of his steel projects, Mittal said, “My projects are not happening does not mean that the country doesn’t need steel.”

“It is just that growth in all sectors, be it steel or energy, is cyclic in nature. Except for IT, most businesses are becoming cyclical. Despite all the talk of a slow down, steel sector is growing at the rate of 4% on a global basis -China will still grow 4% this year, US will grow 7-8% and similarly India’s steel sector will also grow.”

Asked if ArcelorMittal was exploring any other project other than the ones proposed in Karnataka, Jharkhand and Odisha, he said: “No. We don’t want to do too many things.”