Latest News

  • Home
  • Global
  • Man Who Lost $35 Billion In One Year Has Some Advice For Elon Musk
Man Who Lost $35 Billion In One Year Has Some Advice For Elon Musk
04 June 2019 IST
Man Who Lost $35 Billion In One Year Has Some Advice For Elon Musk

Eike Batista owned a commodities empire that once made him the world's eighth-richest person, and a household name in Brazil.
 

 
 

Walking down a busy street in Rio de Janeiro one recent afternoon, we bumped into the Brazilian who is best known for losing $35 billion in a single year. After initially trying to deflect questions, he begrudgingly invited us along for a lunch that lasted two hours.
 
The man, of course, is Eike Batista, who once famously told Mexico's Carlos Slim to watch out because, he said, he was poised to surpass him as the world's wealthiest person. Slim has since faded to ninth on the list, Batista to oblivion. Now, he's staging a comeback. Or trying to, at least. He's also got lots of ideas for a man on the hot seat right now that he sees as something of a kindred spirit, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and he's quick to spew criticism at those he feels did in his empire.
 
Batista sat at the head of the table at one of his favorite Japanese restaurants in Rio, holding court and quizzing companions about Brazil's ongoing oil bonanza while he scribbled calculations on a place mat. Pinned to his black sport coat was a golden sun, the logo of his erstwhile commodities empire that once made him the world's eighth-richest person, and a household name in Brazil.
 
"People don't even know it's working,'' Batista said between bites of shrimp tempura, describing a port he owned that now loads giant oil tankers bound for China. "It's bigger than Manhattan!''
 
Other former ventures are all humming along under foreign ownership, and remain a source of pride. Then a slight frown came across his face. "Except the oil.''
 
He was referring to OGX, which went bust under a mountain of debt after an unsuccessful exploration campaign. He blames President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for succumbing to a bout of resource nationalism, leaving only shallow-water scraps for him. Then, without missing a beat, he drew parallels to an acquaintance who's in the kind of tight spot he knows too well.
 
"Elon Musk is suffering from this right now," he said.
 
Like OGX before it, Musk built Tesla on the premise of greater sales than were delivered, and the failure sent shares tumbling. Terms like "distressed credit" and "restructuring" entered the conversation. It's the biggest decliner in the Nasdaq 100 Index this year.
 
While differences between the men are glaring -- Musk wants his electric cars to break the world's fossil fuel addiction -- the sudden downfall of Batista's oil company offers a cautionary tale for Tesla investors.
 
Both have attacked short sellers with caustic tweets and made market-moving announcements on social media, then came under scrutiny from regulators for doing so. (Brazil's securities commission this week banned Batista from running publicly-traded companies for seven years and slapped him with a 536-million-real ($132 million) fine.) They also regretted having taken their companies public once markets turned against them, and suffered high-profile staff departures.
 
The two have a personal relationship. In 2008 Musk traveled to Rio during another difficult moment, Batista said. A failed rocket launch had put Musk's space program in doubt. They also met at Tesla's factory in California, and Musk returned to Rio in 2014 for the World Cup where Batista assisted with his social agenda. "I helped him to go to some parties."
 
OGX still exists under a different name as a minor producer, not the giant Batista envisioned. Tesla, too, risks being relegated to a niche player amid growing competition from established car makers who are flooding the market with new models.
 
Batista's big concern for the company is the quality -- or lack-there-of, he says -- of the interior of Tesla cars. It's an unusual perspective. Not even the most bearish Tesla bears tend to dwell much on the seats.
 
"You can choose a Mercedes, Audi, or Jaguar that are cheaper than his SUVs, and you sit in there and see the interior; you can't compete!" said Batista, a former speedboat racer and car buff who displayed a Lamborghini in his living room until it was seized. "If you don't correct this, you fall behind."
 
Batista doesn't see Tesla bringing down Musk's wider group of companies the way OGX sank his, even if the car maker doesn't endure. In any case, Musk has already altered the course of history by forcing the wider auto industry to produce electric cars.
 
"He provoked a beautiful and massive move toward change," Batista said, and then made a comparison to himself. "We are perfectionists, we are nation-builders."

 
 

The conversation continued the next day at his office, a more modest space than he occupied in his heyday, but still offering a view of Rio's iconic Sugarloaf mountain and decorated by trophies from the past. A surf board once ridden by Gabriel Medina, Brazil's two-time world champion, rested in a corner. A title belt given to him by a mixed martial arts fighter hung on his wall, and a coffee table featured a pair of samurai swords that were also a gift.
 
The man who once regularly graced Brazil's front pages declined to have his photo taken.
 
He played videos showcasing the companies he once owned, then spoke about the 15 "unicorns" he's "breeding in my garage" that will restore him to prominence. One plan entails producing millions of tons of calcium phosphate to sequester carbon emissions from power plant stacks and car engines. Another is toothpaste that regenerates enamel, though the tubes he passed around the conference table were for now filled with water.
 
Batista says he's looking forward, and is untroubled by the past.
 
"The difficulty is for people to understand that my relation to money is very different. I didn't mind breaking my empire," Batista said, adding that he quickly sold his companies on the cheap. "You can't let projects of that scale stop; if it stops for 2, 3, 4 years, sometimes you can't catch up."

 
 
 
 
 

Related Topics

 
 
 

Trending News & Articles

 Article
'Worse than prison': A rare look inside China's detention camps to 'brainwash' Muslims

ALMATY: Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China's new indoctrination camps had to disavow the...

Recently posted . 167K views . 1 min read
 

 Article
What The Shape Of Your Belly Button Says About Your Health

If you have payed attention to the belly buttons of people on the beach or the members of your family, you have probably noticed that they have different shapes and...

Recently posted . 6K views . 2 min read
 

 Article
Top 10 Best Gym Equipment Brands in India 2018

Body fitness is one thing that everyone wants to maintain irrespective of age. Going to the gym and doing some great exercise always helps to maintain your body fit...

Recently posted . 3K views . 2 min read
 

 Article
Top 10 Horrifying Acts of Chemical Warfare and Gas Attacks

In this age of terror, there might be nothing more terrifying than the thought of an attack carried out with chemical weapons. We’ve all heard the horrific ...

Recently posted . 2K views . 4 min read
 

 
 

More in Global

 Article
China blocks effort at UN to ban Jaish chief Masood Azhar for 4th time

HIGHLIGHTS   *The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of ...

Recently posted. 505 views . 3 min read
 

 Article
Travelling with children? Here’s how to be stress free and actually enjoy your trip

From saving money on room service to finding useful items in your room, here are some hacks for travelling with kids from an expert.

Recently posted. 479 views . 0 min read
 

 Article
Explained: Why US wants social media details of most visa applicants

Social media is an intricate map of its users’ contacts, associations, habits and preferences. Critics say the sweeping surveillance potential of the new regu...

Recently posted. 652 views . 1 min read
 

 Video
25 Tips for Beautiful Life - Beautiful Quotes



Recently posted . 622 views
 

 Reviews
Leaseweb hosting review



Recently posted . 799 views . 67 min read
 

 Article
Watch: Man Scaled 4 Floors To Save Child, "Real Spiderman", Say People

Mamoudou Gassama's quick climbing to reach the child went viral on social media, with people calling the 22-year-old a real spider man.

Recently posted. 445 views . 1 min read
 

 Article
Defunct China Space Lab Plunges Into Earth, Breaks Up Over South Pacific

  Tiangong-1 was placed in orbit in 2011, acting as a testing ground for China's efforts towards building its own space station by 2022.

Recently posted. 400 views . 1 min read
 

 
 
 

   Prashnavali

  Thought of the Day

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
Elbert Hubbard

Be the first one to comment on this story

Close
Post Comment
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST


ads
Back To Top