Mittal puts his business first with $350m cut to dividend payout

Lakshmi Mittal, ArcelorMittal's chief executive and a 41 per cent shareholder, is set to lose dividends worth about $350m (£217m) after proposing to slash investor payouts at the steel maker by nearly three-quarters next year.

After reporting a plunge into the red in the third quarter, the ArcelorMittal board proposed cutting the full-year dividend to 20 cents a share in 2013 from 75 cents this year, as slowing demand from China, the world's biggest consumer of industrial metals, dragged it to a $709m deficit in the third quarter, from a $659m profit a year earlier.

A dividend cut of that magnitude would reduce the payout to Mr Mittal, Britain's richest man according to the Sunday Times "Rich List", from about $477m to $127m.

He said: "The already fragile global economy was further impacted in the third quarter of 2012 by the slowdown in China. This resulted in very challenging operating conditions for ArcelorMittal, which are expected to continue in the fourth quarter."

Third-quarter revenues fell by 19 per cent to $19.72bn as steel deliveries fell by 5.7 per cent to 19.9 million tonnes.

Economic weakness, particularly in Europe, prompted the ratings agency Standard & Poor's to cut the steel maker's debt to junk status in August.

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