Undeterred by delays, Mittal says India continues to be a priority

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 29, 2012

A file photo of Mr Lakshmi N. Mittal.

Most know Mr Lakshmi N. Mittal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal, as the richest Asian in Britain. But few know what drives the man, given the social-political interferences in economic decision-making today.

‘What next?' is written on his face, as he sits down to chat with media persons after the successful implementation of the HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL) refinery project, a joint venture between Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and Mittal Energy Investment Pte Ltd, Singapore — a Lakshmi N. Mittal group company.

India is high on the priority list (market) of the group, but may not be high on the investment list.

“It is my Indian culture which influences my decision making,” says Mr Mittal, adding that decision making for the group is dependent on the projects. Stating that he is answerable to his shareholders, the man is willing to wait.

But, how long?

“I am not giving up now. I will wait,” he says, maintaining that steel and mining continue to be his core interest.

‘Patience' is the most important word in his dictionary and it is this that has kept him going even as some of his projects in India are casualties of delays in decision-making.

He does not agree with the view that given the current global situation, “India story is over.” In fact, there is a process of continuous growth and there is tremendous potential.

Mr Mittal says though he feels unhappy about the delay in decision-making in the country, he is not complaining. Success lies in adapting to the situation and moving on, he said.

For the Bathinda project, for instance, the company had to take almost 598 approvals from various authorities.

Base for future investments

Stating that implementing brown-field projects are easier than greenfield ones, Mr Mittal said, to begin with, the option of increasing the refinery capacity to 11.2 million tonnes and then subsequently to 18 million tonnes per annum is there. But the final decision will be taken by the company's (HMEL) board.

The refinery is meant for meeting the domestic requirements, he said. Exports will happen only when local demand is met and the refinery is not dependent on exports.

“The idea is to grow down the value chain. I would like HMEL to become the base for future investments in the sector,” he said.

On partnerships which have not shown very successful results such as ONGC-Mittal for upstream segment of oil and gas business, he said, “you don't succeed in everything. The emphasis is on relationship.”

Mr Mittal dismissed any suggestion that the partnership with ONGC is over.

On targets, he said, “I believe in taking small steps. Not set huge targets.”


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Published on April 29, 2012
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