Mittal nets $2bn from steel giant in 2007

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Lakshmi Mittal, the UK's richest man, boosted his coffers by almost $2bn (£1bn) in 2007 through his shareholding in ArcelorMittal, the steel group that yesterday announced full-year profits had stormed to more than $10bn.

The Indian-born steel magnate, reputedly worth £23.5bn, is president and chief executive of ArcelorMittal, the group created through a $35.9bn mega-merger in 2006. It announ-ced its first full-year results as a merged company, add-ing that it had returned $4.4bn to shareholders in 2007 through a series of dividends and share buy-backs. Mr Mittal holds a 43 per cent stake in the group, equating to a return of $1.89bn.

In its statement, ArcelorMittal reported net income had grown 30 per cent to $10.4bn. It calculated the rise based on the pro forma results – the combination of the two companies' numbers before the merger – for 2006, which had totalled $8bn.

Sales at the group soared from $88.6bn to $105.2bn over the same period. The company said: "Sales were higher primarily due to higher average selling prices."

Yet ArcelorMittal's shares fell 5.65 per cent in Paris yesterday, over concerns relating to its predictions for this year.

Mr Mittal called 2007 a "truly excellent year for ArcelorMittal". He added that the integration process had not prevented the group looking at further deals. It announced 35 transactions last year. "We have also identified 20 million tonnes of organic growth potential," he added.

Last year's deals included expansion in Latin America, after it received approval for the full takeover of Acindar Industria Argentina de Aceros in December. It also built its stake in China Oriental Group, a steel products group, in November. Last month, ArcelorMittal agreed to buy three coal mines from the Russian giant Severstal in a deal worth $720m.

ArcelorMittal, which employs 320,000 people in more than 60 countries, is the world's largest steel company after it merged the first and second largest players in the sector.

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