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Mittal Steel continues its charm offensive

Prominent Indian industrialist Lakshmi Mittal is continuing his charm offensive to win over shareholders of Arcelor.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 14:29 IST

Prominent Indian industrialist Lakshmi Mittal is continuing his charm offensive to win over shareholders of Arcelor, the company he is seeking to take over.

Roeland Baan, the Dutch chief executive of Mittal Steel's European division, told Belgium's leading financial daily, l'Echo, that Mittal was capable of protecting Belgium's steel industry.

"With Arcelor we will have an annual production capacity of 110 million tonnes of steel. Our aim is to reach 140 million tonnes," he said.

As for the future, Baan pointed to "a project in India which will increase production by 10 million tonnes," adding the company would "also focus on the Chinese market, through acquisitions in that country."

Asked if Mittal Steel was prepared to make a 100 per cent cash offer to Arcelor shareholders, Bann said: "Theoretically everything is possible."

But he doubted the wisdom of such a course, given that "a shareholder participates in the growth potential of the sector in which he invests".

According to INEP agency, Baan felt that the delay in launching an offer for Arcelor should be seen "in the light of the work to be done by the financial authorities".

"They've never before had to handle so complex a deal, which takes place simultaneously in several countries," he told the newspaper.

For "l'Echo", the opposition encountered by Mittal Steel was due to the fact that the company was not well known in Europe. Baan agreed.

However he pointed out that the Mittal Steel group was formed only in 2004, and therefore the name was understandably unfamiliar.

"But we are not particularly concerned with creating an image," Baan added.