Batista’s new ventures: dog cloning, impotence pills, breath freshener

Batista’s face appears during a fundraising telethon November 2010. Source: Igor Leandro

Batista's new ventures: dog cloning, impotence pills, breath freshener

Batista’s face appears during a fundraising telethon November 2010. Source: Igor Leandro

Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista’s riches to rags story must be one of the most rapid in history.

OGX, the flagship of his five public “X” companies – the X represents the tycoon’s presumed ability to act as a business multiplier – collapsed in October last year in what was Latin America’s largest corporate default in history.

On Tuesday Batista will go on trial for insider trading and market manipulation for dumping OGX stock before anyone else knew that the offshore oil company’s wells were mostly dry.

If convicted – and the odd’s are against it – he’d be the first person ever to go to jail for the crime and the trial is also considered a litmus test for the South American nation’s legal system.

But Batista is not waiting for the outcome of court proceedings and showing his knack for reinvention has already embarked on a new venture a world away from oil, gas and mining.

The Financial Times reports Batista’s holding company EBX has entered into an development agreement with C.L. Pharm, a South Korean biotech firm specializing in breath fresheners and erectile dysfunction medication.

But Batista’s move into biotech does not stop there:

Mr Batista began negotiating with C. L. Pharm when he travelled to South Korea in April this year and has paid $1m just for the rights to set up a factory in his home country, according to a book due to be released on Friday about the tycoon titled ‘All or Nothing’ by Brazilian journalist Malu Gaspar.

Mr Batista is also said to have held business meetings with Hwang Woo-suk, a South Korean scientist who is looking to make his own comeback by setting up a dog cloning laboratory in Brazil, according to the book. After making the world’s first cloned dog Snuppy in 2005, Mr Woo-suk was accused of faking research on human stem cell cloning. Mr Woo-suk could not be reached for comment.

Whether the silver fox can replicate past successes in the pet and sexual health industry remains to be seen, but the rise of his empire built on resources was nothing if not spectacular.

Batista, one of seven children, was born into mining as the son of a CEO of iron giant Vale who later became Brazil’s mining minister.

The young Eike led the playboy lifestyle, dropping out of engineering school, marrying a carnival queen and Playboy model and becoming a speedboat world champion.

He started out with small-scale gold mining in the Amazon which morphed into TVX Gold, a company listed in Canada in the 1980s but which Batista left under a cloud before it was sold to Kinross Gold in 2001.

Batista’s graduated to the big leagues during the last decade’s commodities boom with gold, iron ore, oil & gas, shipping, coal, construction and sports promotion companies.

OGX’s off-shore oil discoveries (such as there were) was set to give credence to Batista’s publicly stated goal of amassing a $100 billion fortune to become the richest person in the world.

Ever the consummate salesman, Batista famously sold Minas Rio to Anglo-American in 2008, pocketing $5.5 billion and offloading an iron ore asset that required many billions more to put into production.

Eike, as he prefers to be called, founded OGX only five years ago with $1.3 billion, the flamboyant Brazilian raised from private investors.

He was such a master of the investment roadshow that one joke doing the rounds in Brazil’s financial circles was that Batista was “the person who has made the most money from PowerPoint after Bill Gates.”

As OGX shares soared taking the national stock exchange Bovespa with it, Eike became the cheerleader for Brazil’s new capitalist elite and the socialist state’s posterboy of entrepreneurship.

Batista’s unmatched political connections more than just opened doors. He received the backing of Brazil’s development bank to the tune of $10 billion and OGX’s top managers came from state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

His fortune topped out at an eye-watering $32.8bn in April 2012 when OGX’s first wells went into production with the opening ceremony attended by newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff herself.

Batista's new ventures: dog cloning, impotence pills, breath freshener

Eike Batista tours refurbishment of Mines and Metals Museum in Minas Gerais. Source: Aécio Neves

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