Lakshmi Nivas Mittal (born June 15, 1950) is a London-based Indian billionaire industrialist, born in Sadulpur Village, in Churu district of Rajasthan, India and residing in Kensington, London. He is the 5th richest person in the world and the richest Indian, with a fortune of U$32 billion according to Forbes. The Financial Times named Mittal its 2006 Person of the Year.
He spent his first years in Sadulpur, living with his extended family on bare concrete floors and rope beds in a house built by his grandfather. His family, from the Marwari Aggarwal caste, was from humble roots; his grandfather worked for the Tarachand Ghanshyamdas Poddar firm, one of the leading Marwari industrial firms of pre-independence India. They eventually moved to Kolkata where his father, Mohan, became a partner in a steel company and made a fortune. Lakshmi was a keen student and graduated at the top of his class in high school (Hindi medium). He graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta (gaining admission after much persistence, as the college wouldn’t admit him at first since he had graduated from a Hindi medium school) with a commerce degree in 1969. His classmates knew him as a sharp student who was good with numbers. Here again, he graduated at the top of his class.
In 1994, due to differences with his father 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. The family or Lakshmi never spoke to the public about the reasons for the split.
Today he is President of the Board of Directors and CEO of Arcelor Mittal which is the world’s largest producer of low and mid-grade steels, with assets in Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Africa, Poland, Czech Republic, Indonesia and Kazakhstan. Many suspected that a donation by Mittal to the British Labour Party had led to Blair’s intervention (a letter to the Romanian Prime Minister) in a business deal favouring Mittal. On July 13, 2005 it was announced that he had donated £2 million to the Labour Party, and on January 16, 2007 it was announced that he had donated a further £2 million.
In March 2007, he was reported the 5th wealthiest person in the world by Forbes Magazine (up from 61st richest in 2004). The Mittal family owns 45% of Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel company.
His residence at 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens was bought from Formula One car racing boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2004 for £57.1 million ($105.7 million), the world’s highest price ever paid for a house. Formerly, this house was the residence of Paul Reuter, the founder of the Reuters news service.
Mittal has two children. He paid over £30 million/$65 million to host his daughter Vanisha’s wedding celebration in Vaux le Vicomte on 22 June 2004 and an engagement ceremony at the Palace of Versailles on 20 June 2004, the world’s most expensive wedding ever. His son Aditya Mittal is the CFO of Arcelor Mittal.
His house in Kensington, London uses the same marble as used in the Taj Mahal.