The Batista ‘bubble’ is bursting

Bloomberg in a rather breathless piece titled ‘Batista Loses $15 Billion As Brazil Awakes From Dream’ tracks the dwindling fortune of Eike Batista, the world of mining’s richest person.

On Thursday Batista was down to his last $20.7 billion as the six public companies he controls – involved in a range of activities including oil exploration, sports management and shipbuilding – are rerated along with the rest of Brazil’s stock market.

Batisita started the year as the world’s seventh richest person and his wealth peaked in March shy of $35 billion according to Bloomberg’s calculations, but he has now dropped out of the the top 20.

Bloomberg reports that Batista’s “resolve remains unshaken” and that his holding company EBX has not cut back on its ambitious $15.7 billion expansion plans.

Brazil’s greatest salesperson started his winning streak in 2008 when his oldest venture – MMX Mineracao & Metalicos SA – sold an iron ore project to Anglo American for $5.5 billion at the top of the market:

The Minas-Rio iron-ore project — now Anglo American’s largest — has also failed to meet expectations. Beset by legal challenges and ballooning costs, the project is slated to come online in 2013, after having initially been projected to start by 2010.

“It won’t be ready in 2026,” said Joao Carlos Cavalcanti, who partnered with Batista on an iron-ore business that was later subsumed into MMX. “Eike told them it had 750 million tons of ore, but it doesn’t have 150 million. They fell for Eike’s blue eyes. He’s very beguiling.”

The geologist, now developing rare-earth deposits in northeast Brazil, is suing Batista for allegedly failing to make agreed investments in their joint venture. “The guy is a bubble,” Cavalcanti said.

EBX declined to comment on Cavalcanti’s allegations. MMX said its chances of losing the lawsuit are “probable,” according to a regulatory filing detailing legal liabilities.

Click here for a profile of Eike Batista >>

Click here for a rundown of mining’s richest billionaires >>

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