Eike Batista stands at the center of a specially built air-conditioned stage on his 22,000-acre-plus Açu port project, a massive oil and iron-ore shipping complex about 200 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. He’s beaming, flashing victory signs. He has on an orange-and-gray racing jacket of the type he wore as a champion speedboat racer two decades before. It clashes badly with his bright pink tie and gray pinstripe suit, but he doesn’t appear to care—in fact, the loud ensemble only serves to highlight a faux oil-stained handprint across the jacket’s left pocket—a corny hint about why he’s asked everyone here.
It’s a cloudy April afternoon in 2012, but Batista is full of blue skies and endless vistas. To date he’s founded five publicly traded companies and is soon to launch a sixth. His personal wealth is estimated at $34.5 billion; most of his enterprises are managed under the umbrella of a holding company bearing his initials, the EBX Group. At 55, he’s Brazil’s richest man—and the eighth-wealthiest man on earth.