x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Eike Batista: Brazilian rises higher with UAE deal

Mubadala's newest business partner is already one of the richest men in the world. But Brazilian entrepreneur Eike Batista wants to be the wealthiest of them all.

Illustration by Chris Burke for The National
Illustration by Chris Burke for The National

Mubadala Development's latest business partner, the Brazilian Eike Batista, is already a very rich man, with a personal fortune estimated at US$30 billion (Dh110.19bn).

But being the world's seventh-wealthiest person in Forbes magazine's ranking might not be good enough for him.

Mr Batista has repeatedly said he wants to be the richest person on the planet.

And the $2bn deal he struck this week with Mubadala, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, will no doubt take the entrepreneur closer to his goal.

Mr Batista, the son of Brazil's former mines and energy minister Eliezer Batista, has built 20 multibillion businesses in varying industries.

Born in Brazil, he spent some of his youth in Europe, because his father was internationalising Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, now Vale, one of the world's biggest mining companies.

Mr Batista credits one stressful event from his childhood with teaching him an important lesson.

He suffered from asthma as a teenager, so his mother signed him up for swimming lessons and made sure he trained every day in a heated pool.

"That made me really anxious, but in less than a year I was cured," he was quoted as saying in Forbes magazine.

"And then I learned one simple lesson: you grow as a person when you face your own challenges," added Mr Batista, who is fluent in five languages - Portuguese, German, English, French and Spanish.

When his parents returned to Brazil, he stayed on to study metallurgical engineering at the University of Aachen in Germany, becoming a door-to-door insurance salesman to support himself.

Mr Batista dropped out of college two years into his course and returned to Brazil.

He set up a company that bought and sold gold, and within a year and a half he had $6 million in hand.

But his margins were beginning to be squeezed as other entrepreneurs entered the industry.

He had to reinvent himself, so he bought a pick-and-shovel gold mine and mechanised it.

From 1980 to 2000, he created $20bn through the set-up and operation of eight gold mines in Brazil and Canada and a silver operation in Chile.

But the keen maritime sportsman also found time to amass several powerboat titles, winning Brazilian, American and world competitions in the 1990s.

"I got all the titles I wanted and got out. I didn't want to die, and my oldest son was born. You change your risk profile," Mr Batista told Bloomberg News.

In 2000, he began to operate three iron ore mines in Brazil. And from 2004 to 2010 he created, structured and took five companies public: OGX (oil and gas), MPX (energy), LLX (logistics), MMX (mining) and OSX (naval offshore industry).

Since 2005, the EBX Group has raised more than $26bn through asset sales and stock offers - a figure that received a significant boost this week with the sale of a 5.6 per cent stake to Mubadala.

gduncan@thenational.ae

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