Eike Batista, Brazil’s Former Richest Man, Loses More Chunks Of His Empire

 @PReyMallen
on October 16 2013 6:44 AM

Brazilian entrepreneur and no longer billionaire Eike Batista is little by little losing his fortune, once considered by Forbes to be the largest in the southern hemisphere and seventh in the world. In the last month, the entrepreneur sold part of his shares in oil company OGX (BVMF:OGXP3); gave up control of logistics business LLX (BVMF:LLXL3); and sold part of his shares in mining company MMX (BVMF:MMXM3).

These deals are the latest attempt by Batista to keep his business afloat. Batista's holding company, EBX, is in trouble. Oil company OGX, one of the holding's six main businesses, revealed in July that its only working oil field could stop producing in 2014. The company's shares dropped 27 percent since. Batista's fortune has been likewise dropping. Estimated at $34.5 billion as of March 2012, it has declined to the point that he no longer is a billionaire. 

As OGX's shares started declining, Batista managed to amass billions in debt and personal liabilities. His fortune dropped even more after Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Mubadala converted an initial investment in EBX into debt. Mubadala restructured the $2 billion it had invested in March 2012 and no longer has equity in the company, reported Bloomberg. Batista's net worth is now just $200 million -- and the Bloomberg Billionaire Index no longer includes him.

(Although Batista's fortune is now 0.5 percent of what it used to be, it is still light years ahead of most Brazilians. According to the OECD Better Life Index, Brazil's median household income locks in at $10,225 a year.)

Batista reached an agreement to sell LLX to U.S.-based private equity fund EIG Global Energy Partners. LLX will issue new stocks worth 1.3 billion reais (around $596 million) that will be bought by EIG, turning it into the controlling shareholder. Batista will retain a share of the capital but will not be part of management.

In another attempt to stave off collapse by selling assets, MMX Mineraçao e Metálicos is selling most of its Sudeste "superport," a huge facility handling iron ore off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, to a joint venture of Dutch commodity trading company Trafigura and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala. The deal will give the buyer a 65 percent stake in MMX Port Sudeste, which is still under construction, for $996 million. To finance the completion of the port, which is slated to be finished mid-2014, $400 million will be pumped into the company; the rest is MMX debt that will be taken on by the buyers.

Earlier this month, Batista sold part of his shares in OGX, reducing his participation in the company to little more than 50 percent. 

OGX, once Batista’s crown jewel, is also waiting for the decision of two state-owned banks to finance $460 million of its debt. Bloomberg reported that the company might file for bankruptcy this month after missing a $45 million interest payment on its bonds maturing in 2022.

The fall of OGX, which gave Batista two thirds of his wealth in under five years since it was founded, shows just how much the Brazilian tycoon has lost in a matter of months. But he is not without hope. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Batista said he hoped to make a comeback, “like PayPal’s founder or Tesla Motor’s had in their day.” 

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