Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista is channeling The Terminator these days.
His new mantra: I’ll be back.
It would certainly be an improbable comeback after one of the biggest personal wealth losses in history. Six months ago, he was worth more than $34 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires. But the man who used to park his Mercedes SLR McClaren in his living room and married a Playboy model is now just a multi-millionaire, and his six public companies are in rough shape.
Most of Batista's problems stem from the erosion of nearly 90% of the value in his flagship company, OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA (OGXP3). Shares in the business have plummeted in the last year as the company missed targets for production output and reserves. Debt holders around the world are now doing all they can to get their money back as Batista's companies undergo a $10 billion debt restructuring.
The former billionaire gave The Wall Street Journal his first interview since his empire crumbled around him. The paper points out that for a man who took great pains (see the story here about his hair transplant) to maintain a flamboyant image, his "hair was mussed and his eyes bleary" when he sat down in Rio de Janeiro for their conversation.
There are so many highlights from the interview – here's The Daily Ticker version of Batista's Greatest Hits:
- The biggest loser? “I am the biggest loser in this. I tried to create wealth for all of us. That was the reason we raised all the money – to create wealth and share it.”
- Brazil will be back. His resource-rich country still has plenty of promise: “Brazil is this giant that is supposed to fall into a hole and never does because it’s always bigger than the hole.”
- Oil oops. OGX top executives were only good at finding oil, not producing it. And worse, they misled him, he says, about progress so that they could get big bonus checks: “The motivation wasn’t necessarily to bring me the truth.”
- The blame game. Batista insists he feels comfortable blaming others in his company for failures because he’s not a surgeon and you don’t want him operating on your kidney. Seriously. Batista explains: “I am the owner of a big group. I alone can’t do it. Let’s say I can be the owner of a hospital, but without 50 surgeons in their areas you are nothing. I don’t have the special knowledge. You wouldn’t ask the owner of a hospital to operate on your kidney.”
- Lucky number 63. That’s his lucky number – when he was riding high, each oil-field bid ended in 63. But now, he claims it was an unlucky period: “If you look at my astrological map, this period wasn’t favorable for me. The good period? It has already started, literally this month.”
- Be like Musk. He is apparently obsessed with Tesla founder Elon Musk. And now Batista tells the WSJ that his career could ride the same wave: “Elon Musk said starting a business is like eating glass. I am eating glass.” But don't underestimate him -- he promised he will be back.
Watch the video above to learn more about how Batista lost his billions, and why some call him the Donald Trump of Brazil.
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