Arcelor and Mittal Steel are getting along well together – a dramatic difference from its rocky relationship last year, when Mittal’s hostile takeover bid of about $33 billion for its European rival was met with a furor of protectionist sentiment.
“We’ve done a lot of the hard work in terms of integrating the two companies,” said Aditya Mittal, chief financial officer of the now-merged steel giant, in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo at WEF's annual meeting. “Now what we need to do is focus on the softer side of integration. We have different cultures. Mittal Steel was much more fast-moving, much more entrepreneurial. Arcelor was slower relative to us. We now need to find the right medium.”
“We need to be a little bit more institutionalized,” he added, “in some sense, have some bureaucracy to take the company forward.”
Mittal offered a bullish outlook for the steel business in 2007, pointing to higher prices and improved margins. More importantly, he said the company will focus on building a presence in Asia.
“We need to grow in China and India,” he said in the interview that aired on "Closing Bell" Thursday. “We see tremendous growth occurring in Asia and we need to be a player there.”
But as Arcelor Mittal looks to expand globally, it could face the same protectionist barriers it experienced in 2006. But Mittal says that while protectionism continues to be problematic, the environment has improved.
“We see nowadays on a global basis certain bodies which are proglobalization and against protectionism, the hedge funds as well, which are allowing many more cross-border deals on a global basis,” he said.