Billionaire: Eike Batista
Wealth: $27.0 billion
Source of Wealth: EBX Group
In 2010, billionaire Eike Batista was was ranked the eighth richest man in the world by Forbes magazine and the fourth richest billionaire in North or South America. Born in Brazil in 1957, he spent most of his childhood in Europe. Living in Germany from 1969 to 1980, he studied engineering at Aachen University but never graduated. In 1980 he moved back to Brazil and started a gold and trading company based in the Amazon area.
He soon joined TVX Gold, a Canadian mining firm. He had some difficult times, but eventually was hugely successful, selling his stake in the company for $1 billion in 2000.
Eike Batista invested that $1 billion profit in several businesses and increased it to $27 billion over the next decade. In 2007, the billionaire started OGX which concentrated on oil and gas exploration and became the source of most of his current wealth.
He is married with two children, Thor and Olin. His wife, Luma de Oliveira, is famous in Brazil as an actress. Eike Batista has spoken of his intention of becoming the world’s richest billionaire, however he is also known for generous donations. For example, the R$ 500,000 he bid for a suit used by President Lula on inauguration day went to charity. Eike Batista made a five-year pledge of R$ 20 million annually to the Rio de Janeiro Pacifying Police Unit program. The billionaire supports the goal of this program to reclaim areas controlled by drug gangs or private militias.
R$ 1.00 (one Real, the Brazilian currency) was worth about $1.70 as of April 2010.
Given his status as a billionaire, Eike Batista can be forgiven a few eccentricities. For example, in 1983 he started EBX Group, which operates a number of subsidiaries, all with the letter X in their names. Many think that symbol attracts money. He is also known for fondness for the Sun and the number 63.
One of the EBX Group companies, OGX, was created in 2007 and is scheduled to start oil production in 2011. It is very unusual for an oil company to start production in such a short time and is testimony to the effectiveness of the leadership of Chairman Eike Batista and the billionaire’s parent company EBX Group.
In addition to OBX, the EBX Group has a number of important subsidiaries. LLX will operate the Superport under construction off Brazil’s coast. LLX is a logistics company which seeks to use synergies between it and other EBX Group subsidiaries. For example, LLX and MMX Mineração cooperate in handling iron ore production and shipment.
MDX is EBX Group’s medical subsidiary. Its center in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most most modern in Brazil, with a laboratory, department for health and skin beauty, a center for diagnostic medicine and medical analysis, and seventeen clinical practice areas.
Founded in 2005, MMX is EBX Group’s mining subsidiary and has two divisions: MMX Corumbá and MMX Sudeste Mineração. It also has a subsidiary of its own: Minera MMX de Chile. EBX Group has 44% of the stock in that subsidiary.
MPX represents EBX Group’s entry into energy production. Its Termoceará natural gas facility, with a capacity of 220 Megawatts, was built in the remarkable time of ten months, demonstrating the company’s ability to meet difficult deadlines and keep within budgets, even on huge projects.
MPX is also involved in mining, as it relates to energy. For example, it uses coal in some of its energy production and owns its own mine in southern Brazil as well as having some mining rights in Columbia. Diversification into renewable energy sources is planned. One of its partners is a Chinese firm, Yingli, which is one of the largest in the world in solar energy generation. A pilot plant is planned for the city of Tauá.
EBX Group subsidiaries MPX and OGX have between them a 70% share in seven exploration blocks for natural gas in Maranhão. The billionaire is known for shrewd picks of location for development and analysts expect these blocks to be no exception.
Eike Batista and his older son, Thor, are known for their love of speedboats. The billionaire’s most interesting boat is a 48 foot carbon-kevlar fiber hulled catamaran with two 1600 horsepower supercharged V8 engines. It has been clocked at over 160 miles per hour, which would be impressive enough on a land-based racetrack but is spectacular on the water.