Bullish on India, ArcelorMittal goes on site hunt

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: May 1 2010, 04:18am hrs
ArcelorMittal, the worlds largest steel producer, on Thursday said it is keen on investing in India and is on the lookout for various sites to set up its plants.

ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi Narayan Mittal said work on its India projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore is expected to start soon and that he is happy with the companys progress in Karnataka, where it is exploring opportunities to set up an Rs 30,000 crore plant. We have initiated various projects in different states in India and the work is in progress. Our target is to build two to three steel plants in India which will require billion dollar investments, he added.

Asked if the company is looking at mergers and acquisitions to expand its India base, he said, As our first step, we have recently completed our joint venture with Uttam Galva. Though this is a small investment, we have made a beginning. We are sensing whether we should have any other partnership in India. But at this point of time, there is nothing off the ground.

According to the reports, the company has approached firms like the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Bhushan Power and Steel for a possible partnership due to the inordinate delays in launching its projects for the past five years. ArcelorMittal had proposed to set up a 12-million tonne per annum (mtpa) new steel plant, one each in Jharkhand and Orissa. But the proposed ventures are facing delays mainly on account of problems in land acquisition and regulatory hurdles.

Mittal forecasts global steel demand to rise by 10% in 2010. ArcelorMittals net profit for the three months ended March 31, 2010, stood at $679 million compared with a net loss of $1.06 billion in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 23% to $18.65 billion from $15.12 billion. The firms primary focus right now is how it will pass on the rise in raw material costs and it is currently in discussions with customers such as auto makers for this.