New U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross resigned from the ArcelorMittal board of directors after the Senate confirmed his new role in the administration on Monday.

During his lengthy career in business, Ross specialized in swooping in and reviving moribund companies and helped bring several Calumet Region mills back from bankruptcy, including in Burns Harbor, East Chicago and Riverdale.

“I've known Wilbur for more than a decade, since we bought his company International Steel Group in 2004,” ArcelorMittal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lakshmi Mittal said. “Since then he has been a very active and engaged member of our board and has always been a trusted and valued source of advice to me. He's a very astute and successful businessman, whose many years of experience at the heart of international finance and commerce mean he is very well positioned to shape policy that promotes economic growth.”

Mittal oversees the company's 12-member board of directors, which held its last annual meeting in Luxembourg. Ross, hailed by the financial media as “The king of bankruptcy,” helped build ArcelorMittal into the world's largest steelmaker by volume, basically creating its U.S. operation out of the spoils of bankruptcy.

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During the steel crisis in the early 2000s, when more than 30 U.S. steelmakers went bankrupt, he acquired Acme Steel, Bethlehem Steel, LTV Steel Corp. and the Gary Plate Mill of U.S. Steel under the banner of the Cleveland-based International Steel Group. He sold that company to ArcelorMittal predecessor Mittal Steel for $4.5 billion after making deep cuts aimed at making the operations more sustainable in the future.

Ross was placed on the ArcelorMittal board at the time of the sale.

“I am sure he will make an excellent Commerce Secretary, bringing great energy, experience and wisdom to the role,” Mittal said. “It is very good news to have such an accomplished businessman and investor in government.”


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.