It\u2019s been a tough year as India\u2019s fourth-richest man has struggled to return to his roots. When Lakshmi Mittal, 68, left India for a vacation through Asia more than four decades ago, he didn\u2019t plan to stay in Indonesia and lay the foundation for a steel empire that spans the globe and generated $5 billion in profits last year. Yet that\u2019s what he did, even as a string of efforts to establish himself in India\u2019s steel market failed - until now. Mittal\u2019s global giant ArcelorMittal is finally nearing the end of a yearlong battle to break into India with the $5.9 billion acquisition of Essar Steel India Ltd. The Indian steelmaker was put on the block after its lenders approached the court to recover about $7 billion in dues. Also read|\u00a0Swiggy wary of Uber investors, brings in new criteria to keep them at bay The forced sale of the 10 million metric tons a year mill has hit numerous roadblocks including rules that compelled Mittal to shell out an extra $1 billion to clear the dues of two firms where he held some stake and to reportedly sell his holdings in one of them for 1 rupee a share. Perhaps the biggest hurdle was posed by Essar Group\u2019s Ruia brothers, who lost control of the mill after a regulator pushed it into bankruptcy court. Challenges from Essar Group, rival bidders and some creditors have seen ArcelorMittal make dozens of trips to court since an initial bid in February 2018 - dwarfing its five-monthlong campaign for Arcelor SA in what was the industry\u2019s biggest merger. \u201cWe have acquired lots of companies around the world. For the first time, we have been sued for acquiring a company,\u201d Aditya Mittal, Mittal\u2019s 43-year-old son and the company\u2019s chief financial officer, said in a BloombergQuint interview in January. \u201cThese are unique circumstances.\u201d The legal wrangling landed in the Supreme Court last year, setting precedents for India\u2019s two-year-old bankruptcy law. The drama also sounded a warning to other founders, who till recently were accustomed to an ineffectual court system and to walking away from debts without serious consequences. Starting Out Lakshmi Mittal, named for the Hindu Goddess of prosperity, was born in a village in India\u2019s northwestern state of Rajasthan, where, he has said, a lack of electricity and water made his early years difficult. Mittal joined his father\u2019s steel business early and went on to set up Mittal Steel Co. in 1976 in Indonesia, before spreading out to Trinidad, Mexico and Germany. In 1994 the family business was split. Mittal\u2019s initial success overseas helped him decide that his future lay outside India, he has said, and he also wanted to avoid conflicts around expansion plans within the family. Brothers Pramod and Vinod Mittal eventually sold their debt-laden local steel business, while ArcelorMittal gained a foothold in India through a minority investment in processed steel producer Uttam Galva Steels Ltd., which was ultimately sold. Mittal also took a 49 percent stake in a local oil refinery through a family investment company in 2007. Mittal\u2019s India Steel Forays Mittal\u2019s efforts to establish itself in India predate the 2006 merger with Arcelor. The steelmaker signed an agreement to set up a plant in Jharkhand in 2005 and one in Odisha in 2006. It ditched the Odisha project in 2013 after failing to get permits for land and iron ore mining. Plans for the Jharkhand venture and another in Karnataka weren\u2019t successful. The steelmaker tied up with the state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd. in 2015. The two companies haven\u2019t yet signed the final terms for a 60 billion rupee plant to cater to the automobile sector. Essar Steel\u2019s capacity will immediately make ArcelorMittal the fourth-biggest player in a nation where the administration plans to invest trillions of rupees in infrastructure. The government has a mandate to use locally-produced steel for projects under the \u201cMake in India\u201d campaign and has in the past curbed overseas inflows with minimum import price limits and anti-dumping taxes. ArcelorMittal is partnering with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. for the purchase, though it will hold a controlling stake. \u201cIndia is very focused on developing its own industrial backbone,\u201d Aditya Mittal said in February after ArcelorMittal\u2019s quarterly earnings. \u201cThe growth that exists in India is not really a growth that is available to imports, but primarily to domestic players.\u201d The acquisition would increase competition in India\u2019s already concentrated flat steel category, according to Jayanta Roy, a senior vice president at ICRA Ltd., the local arm of Moody\u2019s Investors Service. \u201cArcelorMittal has a strong market position globally in the automobile sector, and its entry in India may give more options to domestic auto majors.\u201d Without doubt India\u2019s insolvency process is reshaping its steel industry. Five companies from the sector were among 12 large debtors - the so-called dirty dozen - ordered into bankruptcy court in 2017 by the regulator in clean-up of one of the world\u2019s worst piles of bad debt. Those cases are, in turn, impacting the law. Five months after the regulator\u2019s order, the government intervened to ban what it called \u201chabitually non-compliant\u201d people from using the bankruptcy process to regain control of their delinquent companies with reduced debt burdens. The change hit the Essar Steel sale when bidders ArcelorMittal and VTB Capital-led Numetal Ltd. were disqualified for links to non-performing companies. ArcelorMittal\u2019s offer was invalidated because of the outstanding dues of two non-performing group companies, while Numetal\u2019s was rejected as one of its investors was the son of an Essar founder. ArcelorMittal eventually cleared the dues in question after sweetening its bid, which the Ruias then topped in a last-minute effort to thwart Mittal. The offers and counteroffers fueled a prolonged legal battle between ArcelorMittal and Numetal, and subsequently the Ruias, prompting the Supreme Court to tighten deadlines mandated by the bankruptcy law and reiterate rules for founders bidding for their delinquent assets. On Friday, victory for Mittal looked close after a bankruptcy court approved ArcelorMittal and partner Nippon Steel\u2019s offer for Essar Steel. Lenders can expect to recover about 85 percent of dues based on the resolution proposed, estimated Sunidhi Securities Institutional Research, which said the order - unless contested by the previous mill owners - clears the way for an entry by the steel giant into Indian markets. The Ruias\u2019 Essar Group said Friday that its $7.8 billion offer remained \u201cthe most compelling\u201d and expressed confidence in its legal validity. For Mittal, that likely means victory still remains a legal challenge or two away.