Brazil’s billionaire Eike Batista said that he expects to become the world’s richest person, speaking in an interview at the Milken Institute’s annual global conference in California.
Batista, whose net worth was recently estimated by Forbes magazine at 27 billion USD, didn’t specify when he thought he would vault to the top of the world’s-wealthiest list, where he currently is No. 8.
“I have to compete with Mr. Slim,” Mr. Batista said, referring to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, currently the world’s richest person as measured by Forbes. “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.
Among four other people, Mr. Batista would also have to pass the second-richest person, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett, who is No. 3 on the Forbes list.
In a wide-ranging discussion with conference director Michael Milken, Mr. Batista discussed his business philosophy and his impressions of the Brazilian and global economies.
“I love to arbitrage inefficiencies,” he said. On a screen he displayed a slide that indicated that it costs his company, EBX Group, US$ 18 to produce a barrel of oil, which Monday sold on global markets for more than $112 a barrel. The company produces gold for $325 an ounce, he said. The metal currently trades at more than $1,500 an ounce.
To handle a massive oil discovery that it is preparing to begin pumping off the Brazilian coast, Mr. Batista’s company is building the nation’s largest shipping port, capable of handling ships with 25-meter drafts.
“When you see a small port with a 10-meter maximum [draft], that’s like flying people from New York to Europe in 737s: It won’t work!” he said. “Come on, you need something bigger.”
A slide Mr. Batista displayed listed various traits a successful CEO needs, including “humility”, “ethics” and “transparency.” Another quality: “Luck.”
Asked by Mr. Milken for an explanation of that entry, Mr. Batista joked: “I have a pact with Mother Nature; I drill and I find things”.
Mr. Batista mentioned in passing another resource he is preparing to exploit: the 2014 soccer World Cup. “I just signed a deal – I’m going to be the exclusive seller of the tickets,” he said. “If you want tickets, you have to talk to me”.