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Is Mittal predatory or passionate?

Not only is the steel tycoon's fortune huge, even is spending habits are.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2006 00:48 IST

It is easy to categorise Lakshmi Niwas Mittal as a predatory businessman who is perpetually on the prowl for steel firms, but his attempts to takeover rival Arcelor have brought out a little know facet about him -- a man prepared to fiercely defend his pride against all odds.

Since launching his bid for Arcelor on January 27, Mittal has had to contend with bitter criticism from the European steel major that initially termed his offer as unfriendly and hostile.

When Mittal first mooted a takeover of Arcelor, its chief executive Guy Dolle denigrated Mittal Steel products, saying: "They make eau de Cologne, we make perfume."

But Mittal's persistence won over even his harshest critics in Arcelor, whose Board today responded positively to the India-born steel tycoon's overtures.

Mittal, 55, who has been relentlessly pursuing Arcelor that even tried to escape his clutches by proposing a merger with Russia-based Severstal, launched an offer in Europe and the US to acquire significant minority stake from Arcelor shareholders.

But Arcelor shareholders gave the thumbs down to a merger with Severstal, reviving hopes of a takeover by Mittal Steel that was born from the merger of two companies Ispat International and LNM Holdings.

Mittal, who was born in Sadulpur in Rajasthan and today counted among the richest in the world with a fortune of $23.5 billion, has reason to be more jubiliant now as the deal with Arcelor would create the world's largest steel entity.

The new firm would be three times bigger than its nearest rival and control 10 per cent global production.

Not only is the steel tycoon's fortune huge, even is spending habits are.

His daughter Vanisha's wedding to investment banker Amit Bhatia in 2003 reportedly cost over $55 million. The five-day extravaganza was held in France's most famous settings, including the 17th century Vaux le Vicomte chateau.

His son Aditya's wedding in 1998 was also equally pompous and hosted in Kolkata's Victoria Memorial.