ArcelorMittalChief Executive Lakshmi Mittal became chairman of the steelmaker on Tuesday,increasing his control over the company.
Two yearsafter the end of the takeover battle that finally led to the friendly purchaseof Arcelor by Mittal Steel, tycoon Mittal achieved his ambition of leading acompany that produces over 100 million tonnes of steel a year and is aboutthree times bigger than its nearest rival.
Icould not have asked for a better chairman during the time of integration,Mittal told the company's annual shareholder meeting, referring to former rivalJoseph Kinsch.
Kinsch, whopresided over Arcelor since its creation in 2002 from a threeway merger betweenFrench, Spanish and Luxembourg steel groups, will head afoundation that aims to defend the company's values.
Mittal andhis family together own over 43 percent of the steel group as of March 20, buthe is thought to have increased his stake since. His son Aditya isArcelorMittal's chief financial officer.
Mittal setup his first steel plant in Indonesia in 1976 at a time when many hadwritten off the steel industry.
He went onto become one of the world's richest men by transforming ailing steel millsaround the world into money spinners by cutting costs, with economies of scaleand by selling higher-value products into a growing market.
ArcelorMittal,which accounts for about 10 percent of the world's steel output, has a marketcapitalisation close to 90 billion euros ($139.1 billion) and has seen thevalue of its shares rise more than 65 percent in the past year.
It hasachieved $1.4 billion of takeover synergies so far, well in sight of its $1.6billion target for 2008.
Since itscreation ArcelorMittal has made consolidation its effective motto, with aflurry of investments and acquisitions in developing countries such as Senegal, India, Russia and China. It also announced last week thatit was considering investing up to $10 billion in Indonesia.
The groupis seeking to raise its own iron ore production to 75 percent of consumption inthe coming years, a goal announced before BHP Billiton announced its plan toacquire rival Rio Tinto.
Thecompany, which produces first-quarter results on Wednesday, has given aguidance for core profit of $4.7-$5.0 billion, above the $4.3 billion it postedduring the same period last year and in line with its fourth-quarterperformance.
A Reuterspoll of analysts gave an average forecast of $5.06 billion.
A smallgroup of militants held a protest in front of the group's headquarters in Luxembourg criticising the steelmaker's socialand environmental impact.
Theuncontrolled growth of this steel giant often at the expense of people's healthin a rapidly globalising world has given people common cause forresistance, a leaflet handed out to shareholders read. (Editing by LouiseIreland)
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