Steel tycoon Mittal, Britain's richest man, joins board of Goldman Sachs

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The Independent Online

Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's wealthiest man, has joined the board of the Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs, where his role will include overseeing bankers' remuneration and corporate governance.

The US group, which has survived the credit crunch better than most rivals, yesterday announced that Mr Mittal had joined its board as an independent director with immediate effect. It added that he will sit on the audit, compensation, corporate governance and nominating committees of the board.

Goldman Sachs' chairman and chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, said Mr Mittal had "reshaped a global industry and, in the process, has engineered new modes of production, identified unrealised value and sparked remarkable growth". He added that having operated all over the world, Mr Mittal "has a keen understanding of the global economy".

The Indian-born magnate, who is reputed to be worth over £23bn and is ranked fourth in Forbes' global rich list, is chairman and chief executive of ArcelorMittal, the largest steel producer in the world.

He launched Mittal Steel in 1976, and has overseen its growth to become the dominant player in the sector. This culminated in the takeover of Luxembourg-based rival Arcelor in 2006, for $39.5bn, the largest European acquisition that year.

The steel group, in which he personally holds a 43 per cent stake, announced this year that its profits for 2007 had risen to $10bn after a boom in commodity prices. The group employs 320,000 across 60 countries.

Mr Mittal settled in London in 1995 and has two properties in "Billionaire's Row" in Kensington. Last year he followed the path of another billionaire, Roman Abramovich, in not only moving to London but buying into a local football club. Mr Mittal joined his friends Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone on the board of QPR in December after he bought a 20 per cent stake in the club.

The appointment of Mr Mittal, who is also a director of India's ICICI Bank and the aerospace company EADS, brings Goldman Sachs' board to 13 directors, 11 of whom are independent. Other members of the board include Edward Liddy, a partner at the private equity company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and Rajat Gupta, a senior partner at McKinsey.

Mr Mittal has also been on the international advisory board of one of Goldman's arch-rivals, Citigroup, but no longer holds this post.

This month, Goldman once more revealed that it had shrugged off the worst of the credit crunch, which has so beset the banks. Just a day after rival Lehman Brothers announced its first quarterly loss as a public company, Goldman posted second-quarter profits of $2bn. While that was down 10 per cent year on year, the bank beat analyst expectations.

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