Billionaire Batista's charm offensive
May 02, 2011
Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista is a former speed boat racer. Now he is helping Brazil race the other BRIC countries to the top of the heap.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Michael Milken (full video here), Batista touched on Brazil's remarkable 8 percent annual growth; its access to water, energy and natural resources; the gigantic oil find that he calls "a trillion-dollar story," and the huge deep-water superport being built to help export Brazil's many resources to the rest of the world.

He bragged about the nation's low-cost production of oil, iron ore, coal and gold, calling them "idiot-proof assets." And he discussed the steps Brazil has taken to improve security and sustainability. Of course, Brazil will soon be on the international stage, hosting the Olympics as well as the World Cup.

While he spoke earnestly about the responsibility he feels - and wishes multinational corporations felt - for helping his fellow Brazilians improve their quality of life, it wasn't all serious business. The chairman and CEO of EBX Group, whose fortune spans shipping, mining, power plants, logistics and vast oil and gas holdings, joked about his uncanny ability to locate reserves. "I have a pact with Mother Nature," he said. "I drill, and I find things."

Batista has said publicly that he intends to surpass Carlos Slim as the richest man in the world, and he repeated that pledge Monday. "Once you're a racer, you never get it out of your blood. That's why I have to race Mr. Slim. I don't know if I'll pass him on the left or the right, but I'll pass him," Batista said.