Will be surprised if ArcelorMittal is out of Essar Steel race: LN Mittal

Lakshmi Mittal

Steel tycoon L N Mittal has said he would be surprised if ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, is declared ineligible to participate in the bid for Essar Steel.

ArcelorMittal and Numetal are the two bidders in the race to acquire debt-laden Essar Steel, currently undergoing insolvency proceedings as it owes more than Rs 450 billion to over 30 banks.

"Ultimately, I would be surprised if we are not eligible to participate in the bid for Essar Steel. ArcelorMIttal is the world's leading steel company we are financially strong, we are ready to invest and bring our technology and products and processes to India," Lakshmi N Mittal, Chairman and CEO, ArcelorMittal told PTI.

The Committee of Creditors (CoC) on May 2 had met representatives of ArcelorMittal and Numetal regarding their eligibility for Essar Steel and a decision is awaited.

Mittal, who has been trying to get a foothold in India for over a decade, said: "India is important to us. Of course for me personally, I would like us to have a presence in my home country".

But moreover, he said, "India is a strategic growth market and if you look at steel industry growth then the majority of growth in the coming years is going to come from the developing economies ex China and that includes India".

He said under present circumstances there is a strong strategic rationale for the company to establish a presence in India.

Asked whether they would be open to organic, inorganic growth in India, Mittal in an e-mailed interview said: "At the moment we are focussed on Essar".

ArcelorMittal last week had said "a swift decision" on the case will be in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Unable to register its presence in India for more than a decade, ArcelorMittal is eyeing entry in the Indian steel market, which it believes has high growth potential, through Essar acquisition.

It has said ArcelorMittal would be the most credible owner of Essar Steel and the company viewed the acquisition as a compelling opportunity for it to enter the Indian steel market.

The company has plans to increase Essar's output in long term to 15-20 million tonne per annum (MTPA) from the current 6 MTPA.

The steel firm also said if its bid is successful it would help India bridge its supply-demand gap and make a significant contribution to the Make-in-India initiative.

ArcelorMittal had bid for Essar Steel on February 12.

The company has been trying for long to enter India but has not succeeded so far. Over a decade back, it had announced to set up two plants - 12 MTPA each- in Jharkhand and Odisha.

ArcelorMittal has presence in 60 countries and an industrial footprint in 18 countries. It is a leading supplier of steel in major global markets.

In 2017, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $68.7 billion and crude steel production of 93.1 MT, while its own iron ore production reached 57.4 MT.

It is listed on stock exchanges of New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Luxembourg and Spain.

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