During the smelting process, fire hardens steel. For Mittal Steel Co., trial by fire transformed Aditya Mittal from a recent Wharton graduate into a respected president and CFO. Along the way, he has forged the deals to build the largest steel producer in the world. One of the most difficult things to do in business is to be successful as the child of the business’s founder. In the case of Mittal, he not only lived up to the expections of his father, Lakshmi Mittal, who started Mittal Steel Co., but kept it at the top of the metals industry at a time of consolidation and the need for updated technology.
Aditya Mittal was a 30-year-old chief financial officer in early 2006 when he led the negotiating team that made the $34 billion deal with Arcelor SA (then the second-largest company) that turned Mittal into the largest steel production company in the world.
Mittal’s 10 percent portion of the global steel production capacity is three times the share of any other company. Mittal has been intent on building the company through debt and acquisitions, believing that consolidation and market share are keys to success in the metals industry. His father grew Mittal Steel from a loose agglomeration of reconditioned steel mills into a giant that made him the third-richest man in the world after Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Mittal joined his father’s company after graduating Wharton magna cum laude. He quickly proved himself by managing the IPO for Ispat International NV. This deal was the largest ever IPO in the steel industry, raising over $775 million and receiving an equity deal of the year award for 1997.
He was promoted to head of mergers and acquisitions in 1999, and since that time has racked up an impressive record. According to Dealogic, a firm that tracks mergers, Mittal Steel made 50 acquisitions or mergers under Aditya Mittal’s leadership since 1999. In 2005 he was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. At Wharton, Mittal is a member of the Executive Board for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.