Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal builds £15m holiday home in Gleneagles

THE richest man in Europe is building a holiday home in Perthshire which, at an estimated cost of £15 million, is poised to become Scotland's most expensive but'n'ben.

Lakshmi Mittal, who is believed to be worth 20 billion, bought a house near Gleneagles Hotel for 4m, which he has torn down in order to construct a new property.

Mr Mittal, 60, and his wife Usha have flown in by helicopter a number of times to ensure work on the holiday home goes according to plan.

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The Indian-born entrepreneur, who owns steel mills and is the world's fifth richest man, has a considerable property portfolio. In 2008 he paid 117m for a home for his son in Kensington in London, while his own home, a few streets away and nicknamed the "Taj Mittal", is reportedly worth 250m.

The cost of the Perthshire project was recently estimated at 12m; however, delays and changes to the design - including scrapping an 80,000 bathroom which was not up to Mr Mittal's requirements - have pushed the price upwards. A neighbour was quoted yesterday saying: "We are all very aware that Lakshmi Mittal has bought the property and he has been very particular about the specifications. He has flown in several times and I have spoken to his wife, who seemed very down-to-earth. I get the impression she is more likely to use the facilities up here than her husband. I think their priority is getting it perfect."

According to reports, the home has wallpaper and soft furnishings by Ralph Lauren. It includes a top-of-the-range sound system, as well as two kitchens, one for home cooking and a second industrial unit to allow them to properly cater for functions. The house, which has either five or six bedrooms, also has accommodation for a live-in housekeeper.

A builder who has worked on the site said: "At the last reckoning, the house was looking to cost 12m, but there will probably be more unforeseen issues to push the final total up. The house is a touch of class. Some of the properties around here are nouveau riche and a bit tacky, but the owner has had more of an eye on classic style and comfort.

It only has five or six bedrooms, which is unusual for such a high-value property."

Mr Mittal is not alone is seeking a holiday home in the Scottish countryside, as according to a top estate agency, sporting estates in the Highlands are still being snapped up by the world's super-rich, despite the recession.CKD Galbraith say that the value of sporting estates increased "strongly" this year, and believe that demand for traditional sporting estate for hunting, fishing and shooting is as strong as ever.

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While there is healthy demand for estates throughout Scotland, John Bound, partner at CKD Galbraith in Inverness, says demand for sporting estates in the Highlands is at present particularly strong. Aberarder Estate, a mixed sporting estate at the head of Strathnairn and extending to some 10,000 acres, was sold privately by CKD to an English businessman.