Cold Vaccine

Trials for an effective cure and vaccine are on in a Seattle laboratory to determine what is the best dosage required to stop the deadly Coronavirus in its tracks. Let us all hope that it arrives just in time to treat us all.

In my work-from-home isolation, I have been reading a somewhat dated thriller titled Cold Steel, by Tim Bouquet and Byron Ousey, written in 2008. The first author is a British journalist, and the second author was a communications strategist for the Luxembourg government. Neither are academics or Steel industry practitioners, but they have really presented a likely story. The book is about the engaging takeover battle between Mittal Steel and Arcelor Steel, that took place in 2005-2006. We may all remember reading about these auctions in the business media.

For those who struggled in Inorganic Chemistry class, some basic facts that may make sense now, many years later like it has for me. Cast iron is the unremarkable product, that has been there for centuries. It is converted to steel by blowing air through the molten liquid to reduce the Carbon content. Henry Bessemer invented the converter to make large amounts of steel in quick time. Stainless steel or rustless steel is made by adding about 12% Chromium to the Steel. I think Cold Steel refers to the finished product as some writers refer to Cold Iron, and the admiring expressions such as “he has got it down cold”. Would Cold Play mean a well-executed play that went exactly according to plan? I am titling this blog-piece Cold Vaccine in solemn prayer that pharmaceuticals soon have a vaccine that works perfectly as an antidote to the virus.

Lakshmi Mittal grew up in Kolkata and learnt how steel was made at the mill where his father worked. Born in a poor, but business family, he was very practical and industrious and earned excellent grade studying commerce college. His first steel mill was located in Indonesia, and from there on there was no looking back. He acquired many PSUs all over the world, that were being privatised due to inefficiencies, and turned them around into profit. He was soon the richest man in Great Britain. In his consolidation quest, Lakshmi and his team acquired many steel mills. Arcelor was a combination of three European PSUs that had been privatised. Mittal Steel’s successful takeover war to acquire Arcelor to form Arcelor-Mittal is well documented in this novel. The authors are not obsessed with the billionaire, but give equal attention to Guy Dollé, the chief of Arcelor, other major industrialists, and the investment bankers, legal and communication advisers who were instrumental in the biggest deal in the Steel industry.

Dr. Badri Toppur
Associate Professor, Rajalakshmi School of Business, Chennai
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