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On Chirac's visit, Mittal looks to PM

The steel magnate hoped that Singh would take up Arcelor issue with the French President during their meeting.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 03:59 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

NRI steel magnate LN Mittal on Sunday night expressed confidence that he would succeed in his bid for takeover of Arcelor Steel plant in Luxembourg.

He hoped that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would take up the issue of the proposed buyout with French President Jacques Chirac during their meeting on Monday since it involved the future of India's business globally.

It is not an individual issue connected to Mittals but it is a larger issue, Mittal told NDTV.

He said he was grateful to Indian ministers and industrialists who had backed his bid to Arcelor.

The owner of Mittal Steel said he would never give up his Indian passport. "I am proud to be an Indian. My passport is Indian and my whole family's passports are Indian. I was born and grown in this country and my roots are here and it is important for me to keep the Indian passports."

He regretted the comments which had tended to be racial against his Arcelor takeover bid and hoped they were not really meant.

Mittal said he was concerned that opposition to his Arcelor bid, if not checked immediately, could become a precedent and affect the Indian business community when it goes for such deals abroad.

He said his deal would benefit the shareholders of Mittal steel and Arcelor by a staggering Rs 36,000 crore in terms of increase in share prices of the two companies.

He, however, said there has been some toning down of opposition to his bid in Luxembourg and Belgium. "The good news is that politicians have come down on their criticism. They have asked investment bankers to have a look at the proposal and the bankers are also asking about this transaction. They are not questioning the transaction".

Mittal said his bid for Arcelor is in the interest of steel industry worldwide.

He said he had discussed the deal with Arcelor top boss who had shown interest in the beginning but later backed out.

Responding to criticism that his was a family-run business and not professionally run, Mittal said his firm was listed in New York Stock Exchange and had an independent board of directors.

Asked whether he was satisfied with what the Indian government has done for him and whether he expects the Prime Minister to take up the issue, he said, "The story has not ended it is a saga. More the support, the better it is for the transaction.

Asked whether Indian support to him was a quid pro co for his possible investment in India, he said when right opportunities came he had invested in India. He had also talked to ONGC and showed interest in oil exploration.

To a question what if he loses the bid for Arcelor, he said, "I am not contemplating losing.

"We will rest our case with the shareholders," he said when asked if he would take up the issue with other European countries and his friends including British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Exuding confidence that he would win the bid to take over Arcelor, as the merged entity would make a profitable global steel company, Mittal said he had followed all the processes including talking to Arcelor CEO Guy Dolle but regretted that he had hung upon on him when he contacted to inform him of the decision.

Mittal, the world's richest man, assured his company would fulfil all the commitments made by Arcelor on employees and investment front.

He said a global steel industry whose market capitalisation was estimated at 500 million dollars was enthused by the takeover proposal and share prices of the steel industry had gone up by 5 per cent or $25 billion following the proposal made by him.

He said there was no need for Arcelor to announce an 85 per cent increase in dividend as it was operating at the level of "market consensus" where as Mittal Steel was performing 20 per cent higher than that level.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 00:27 IST