“He extracted his first million from lawless goldmines deep in the Amazon jungle and went on to become Brazil’s richest man, a smooth-talking mining and energy tycoon who keeps a Mercedes-Benz SLR in his sitting room as a symbol of his $27bn (£17bn) empire.
Now, with Rio de Janeiro gearing up for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Brazilian entrepreneur Eike Batista has set himself two new goals: to help transform his adoptive beachside home into one of the world’s most dynamic and affluent cities, and to become the richest man on Earth.
“Mister Carlos Slim has to invent a new race kart to catch up,” said the 53-year-old, referring to the Mexican telecoms billionaire rated by Forbes as the world’s wealthiest person. Batista is currently eighth.
Batista’s companies, controlled by a holding group called EBX – the X a reference to multiplying profit – plan to pump nearly £13bn into Rio state over the next two years, constructing ports and factories, and drilling for oil.
“If I look at Rio 10, 15 years out it is going to be unbelievable,” he said, describing the city’s future as a mix of California, New York and Houston, combining stunning beaches and natural beauty with financial clout and ultra-modern architecture.
He is also working on plans to build, from scratch, “a super-modern, digital city” for about 250,000 people. The city, to be erected around150 miles from the state capital and designed by the Brazilian architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner, will be called Cidade X.
The billionaire’s Rio projects involve cleaning up the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, running a luxury cruise ship for tourists, revamping the city’s marina and restoring a traditional hotel, which like much of Rio has fallen on hard times in recent decades as growing violence triggered a crippling economic exodus.” – Guardian (more)