London-based billionaire Indian businessmen Lakshmi Mittal may just have provided the answer to that interminable question: what do you buy the billionaire who has everything?
After the string of mega mansions, the yacht, the private jet and the premiership football club, the steel tycoon has reportedly closed on a deal to buy a mountain.
The 2700-acre Blencathra Mountain is located in the Lake District, one of the most breathtaking corners of the world.
The mountain – which is 2800-feet at its peak – was put up for sale by the Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther, to pay off a staggering £9 million inheritance tax bill.
Quite apart from the idyllic setting, Mr Mittal would certainly have been attracted by the fact that whoever buys the mountain is entitled to use the title Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld.
The new owner will also obtain grazing rights for thousands of sheep.
Blencathra, which is known locally as Saddleback due to its unique shape, also attracts walkers and tourists from around the world.
But while the mountain’s’ £1.75 million asking price would have been small change for Mr Mittal, who is worth an estimated £10.2 billion, he is facing protests by a group of hardy locals who fear that the area will be closed off to the public under a foreign billionaire’s ownership.
Once it became known last month that an anonymous buyer was preparing to bid, a group called the Friends of Blencathra came up with a counter-bid. However, the group’s bid was some £350,000 less than Mr Mittal’s.
The group had wanted to turn the site into public land and were hoping that the good Earl would be more interested in the public good and not fretting too much on that inheritance tax bill but it seems the latter is a far more pressing concern.
The Group has now lodged a protest after the selling agent confirmed the Earl had accepted an offer from an unnamed party.
The agent’s statement said: “Prior to reaching this decision we had discussions earlier today with representatives from The Friends of Blencathra.
“We have taken into account both their offer and the fact that there is a significant shortfall between this and the successful offer.”
“The reason behind the sale of Blencathra is to realise capital for inheritance tax following the death of the 7th Earl of Lonsdale in 2006. The Estate’s solicitor has been instructed to proceed with the sale and we expect the matter to be completed reasonably quickly,” the statement added.