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Mittal is Sunday Times Businessman

He proved his resilience, reach and determination in wresting Arcelor from European states, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 02:56 IST
Vijay Dutt

Accolades, awards, riches and steel plants continue to fall into Lakshmi Niwas Mittal’s deep pockets. Specially in the year gone by, he proved his resilience, reach and determination in wresting Arcelor despite a range of European states ranged against him.

No wonder the Sunday Times has named him its Business Person of 2006. It said it was the year Mittal proved his mettle and deserved the award after his audacious hostile takeover of Arcelor.

Mittal embodies the rise of a new breed of Indian entrepreneur: confident and commanding on the world stage. And he has done it all his way, including, at the end, taking the chief executive’s job at the new company, rather than the back-seat position of president.

Quite a commendation for the Indian businessmen, generally. The fact is that the choice of the Sunday Times Business Person of the Year always generates debate in its business team, readers and occasionally outside it too. The paper said this year too it was a close-run thing.

Mittal beat strong contenders, including Stuart Rose who won all round praise from the Times readers for his revival of Marks & Spencer. He was credited with performing a near miracle in restoring M&S to a position where it could once again be recognised as genuine leader in British retailing.

The other contender was John McAdam, whose resuscitation of ICI won him many plaudits. The remarkable fact is that Mittal was chosen by a readership that is, except for a minuscule minority, English.

But Mittal’s arrival at Arcelor’s Luxembourg headquarters — literally a palace at the top of which is a restaurant that has a 25,000-bottle wine collection —that separated him from the two named and other strong field of contenders for the Times annual award.

Mittal had impressive business credentials. He was Britain’s richest resident (a fortune put at £14.8 billion by the Sunday Times Rich List) and had, over a globe-trotting, deal-making couple of decades, put together the world’s largest steel company.