Two weeks back on my way back to Chennai in Mumbai Airport I picked up the book – Cold Steel, Lakshmi Mittal and the Multi-Billion-Dollar Battle for a Global Empire by Tim Bouquet and Byron Ousey. The book is about the story of the world’s biggest and most hard-fought industry takeover in recent years. It is the story of Lakshmi Mittal taking over (or merging) with European steel giant Arcelor to form ArcelorMittal. What I liked about the book was that it is told in a thriller fashion on what happened each day of this six-month battle. Each day is narrated by the authors in a scene by scene fashion including the likely dialogues that were spoken. Once you start reading the book you can’t keep it down.
I always admired Mr Mittal for his humble beginnings to become the “King of Steel” and for his vision which he followed to grow his company at unprecedented rates. His growth story is something that is made of numerous acquisitions of assets around the world which have all been successfully integrated. My admiration keeps growing as I read more – all his ventures have been outside his home country (India) in all far off places of the world and he still proudly sports an Indian Passport. This book goes into detail about all the things (Politics and Racism) that happened behind closed doors to prevent him from taking over Arcelor. As the book says it – Mr Mittal certainly is someone who is Stoic” – a term meaning someone who just puts up with whatever is thrown at them. It is a very apt term to summarize what Mr Mittal had to put up with during this battle – right from Racist comments to the protective behaviour of several European governments and finally the unprecedented stone-walling by the Arcelor board for every step of Mr Mittal.
The takeaway for me as a Corporate head from the book was how the entire team at Mittal Steel worked together as a single team to triumph over the fragmented Arcelor team. Consider the fact that the Mittal Steel team was not composed of one organization but it nearly a dozen entities from Investment bankers, lawyers, and PR Agencies, to Mr Aditya Mittal and Mr Lakshmi Mittal himself. The whole battle is pure project management brilliance of how all of them were kept in sync, said the same story, we’re on the same page all the time. Add to that the fact they used modern communication tools (Email and Blackberries) for effective collaboration increased my interest in reading the book fully.
I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to survive in today’s globalized corporate world.