Lakshmi Mittal (or Lakshmi Narayan Mittal, लक्ष्मि नारायण मित्तल, born 15 June 1950) is a London-based Indian billionaire industrialist, born in Sadulpur village, in the Churu district of Rajasthan, India, and resides in Kensington, London.
In March 2008, Mittal was reported to be the 4th wealthiest person in the world, and the wealthiest in Asia
, by Forbes Magazine
(up from 61st. richest in 2004) up one place since a year ago. The Mittal family owns a controlling majority stake in ArcelorMittal
, the world's largest steel company.
His residence at Kensington Palace Gardens was bought from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2004 for £57 million (US$128 million), making it the world's most expensive house, at that date.
Kensington Gardens, currently owned by financier Noam Gottesman. The Guardian newspaper reported that the purchase price would be £127 million, which would set a record for the most expensive house ever sold in Britain. The paper noted that the house on "Billionaire's Boulevard" was expected to be the home of Mittal's son.
Mittal's house in Kensington, London is decorated with marble taken from the same quarry that supplied the Taj Mahal. The extravagant show of wealth has been deemed the "Taj Mittal".
The Financial Times named Lakshmi Mittal its 2006 Person of the Year. In May 2007, he was named one of the "100 Most Influential People" by Time magazine.
Born in a Rajasthan Agrawal
family, Lakshmi spent his initial years in India
, living with his extended family on bare floors and rope beds in a house built by his grandfather. His family was from humble roots; his grandfather worked for the Tarachand Ghanshyamdas Poddar
firm, one of the leading industrial firms of pre-independence India
. His father started a steel Mill in Hardoi
, Uttar Pradesh
, and nearly 80% of the Mill's production used to be sold through the firm owned by Lala Gulab Chand
. They eventually moved to Calcutta
where his father, Mohan, became a partner in a steel company and made a fortune.
He graduated from St. Xavier's College in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Business and Accounting in 1969 .
Lakshmi Mittal began his career working in the family's steelmaking business in India, and in 1976, when the family founded its own steel business, Mittal set out to establish its international division, beginning with the buying of a run-down plant in Indonesia. Shortly afterwards he married Usha, the daughter of a well-to-do moneylender. In 1994, due to differences with his father,mother and brothers, he branched out on his own, taking over the international operations of the Mittal steel business, which was already owned by the family. Mittal's family never spoke publicly about the reasons for the split.
The Mittal Affair: "Cash for Influence"
Controversy erupted in 2002 as Plaid MP Adam Price
exposed the link between UK prime minister Tony Blair
and Mittal in the Mittal Affair
, also known as 'Garbagegate' or Cash for Influence
. Mittal's LNM
steel company, registered in the Dutch Antilles
and maintaining less than 1% of its 100,000 plus workforce in the UK, sought Blair's aid in its bid to purchase Romania
's state steel industry. The letter from Blair to the Romanian government, a copy of which Price was able to obtain, hinted that the privatisation of the firm and sale to Mittal might help smooth the way for Romania's entry into the European Union
The letter had a passage in it removed just prior to Blair's signing of it, describing Mittal as "a friend.
In exchange for Blair's support Mittal, already a Labour contributor, donated £125,000 more to Labour party funds a week after the 2001 UK General Elections, while as many as six-thousand Welsh
steelworkers were laid off
that same year, Price and others pointed out. As well as this, Mittal is a non resident Indian residing in the United Kingdom for over 14 years. Because of this, he has been included on many unofficial Wealth-indicative lists as the richest man in the United Kingdom, when in actuality, the List held by the UK and Channel Island Treasury Authority lists no mention of name "Lakshmi(or derivatives) Mittal." Corus Group
and Valkia Limited
were two of the primary employers in south Wales
, particularly in Ebbw Vale
, and Port Talbot
Queens Park Rangers
Recently, Mittal had emerged as a leading contender to buy Barclays Premiership
. However on 20 December 2007 it was announced that the Mittal family had purchased a 20 per cent shareholding in Queens Park Rangers football club
joining Flavio Briatore
and Mittal's friend Bernie Ecclestone
. As part of the investment Mittal's son-in-law, Amit Bhatia, took a place on the board of directors. The combined investment in the struggling club sparked suggestions that Mittal might be looking to join the growing ranks of wealthy individuals investing heavily in English football and emulating other similar benefactors such as Roman Abramovich
After witnessing India win only one medal, bronze
, in the 2000 Summer Olympics
, and one medal, silver
, at the 2004 Summer Olympics
, Mittal decided to set up Mittal Champions Trust
with US$9 million to support 10 Indian athletes with world-beating potential..In 2008 Mittal awarded Abhinav Bindra
with Rs. 1.5 Crore, for getting India
its first individual Olympic
gold medal in shooting.
For Comic Relief 2007, he matched the money raised (~£1 million) on the celebrity special BBC programme, The Apprentice.
Criticism and allegations
Employees of Mittal have accused him of "slave labour" conditions after multiple fatalities in his mines. During December 2004, twenty-three miners died in explosions in his mines in Kazakhstan
caused by faulty gas detectors.
Lakshmi Mittal paid himself a bonus totalling GB£1.1bn
out of company funds in 2004 after a takeover of a US-based steelmaker, ISG.
Environmental harm for self-gain
Subsequent environmental issues at the site have been a cause for criticism. The Government tried to sue in the High Court to have him pay for the clean-up of Cork Harbour but failed.
Cash-for-influence or Mittal affair
- 2008: Padma Vibhushan
- 2007: Bessemer Gold Medal
- 2006: Person of the Year - Financial Times
- 2004: European Businessman of the Year - Fortune magazine
- 1998: Willy Korf Steel Vision Award - American Metal Market and PaineWeber’s World Steel Dynamics
- 1996: Steelmaker of the Year - New Steel