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Batista Loses Title as Brazil’s Richest to InBev’s Lemann

Batista Loses Brazil’s Richest Title to Lemann as OSX Plummets
Jorge Paulo Lemann, center, poses with Professor Werner Baer, left, and Professor David Fleischer, during the inauguration of The Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies at Illinois, in Champaign. Source: Fundacao Lemann via Bloomberg

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Eike Batista is no longer Brazil’s richest person after shares of his natural-resource startups plunged today. The title now belongs to Anheuser-Busch InBev NV investor Jorge Paulo Lemann.

Batista’s shipbuilder, OSX Brasil SA, fell 6.8 percent to 8.95 reais at 12:37 p.m. in Sao Paulo, leading declines by five of his six publicly traded companies. The 56-year-old’s net worth now stands at $18.6 billion, down by almost half since the end of March, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Lemann commands a fortune of $18.9 billion. Shares of AB InBev, the world’s largest beer manufacturer whose $52 billion merger he helped engineer, rose 1.3 percent to 67.43 euros today.

“Brazil deserves to have more Brazilians on this list,” Batista said in an e-mail, declining to comment on whether he could reclaim the top spot from Lemann. “May all businessmen continue investing and creating jobs, like we do at EBX!”

Batista, who has made repeated vows to pass Carlos Slim as the richest man on Earth, fell from his perch following a string of disappointments that began in June, when his flagship, OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, cut its initial production targets less than five months after pumping its first barrel of oil.

OSX tumbled today after a contract was canceled that would have allowed the company to help build five drillships, according to Auro Rozenbaum, an analyst with Banco Bradesco SA. Also today, Batista’s port-development unit LLX Logistica SA named a new chief executive, marking the sixth shakeup of top management at one of his companies since June.

‘Explosive Returns’

The billionaire’s closely held ventures now account for the bulk of his fortune after Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co. bought a 5.63 percent stake in his EBX Group Co. empire at the end of March. Based on the market value of Batista’s publicly traded companies at the time, the $2 billion deal valued his closely held units at about $10 billion.

“Eike has the potential for explosive returns, but it’s also a business full of challenges,” said Chris Palmer, who helps manage $2.5 billion of assets as London-based director of global emerging markets for Henderson Global Investors Ltd. “The performance of the companies that Lemann controls has been very strong.”

Richest Brazilians

Buoyed by steady demand for beer, Lemann and his two billionaire partners, Marcel Herrmann Telles and Carlos Alberto Sicupira, have seen their wealth climb more than 50 percent this year after orchestrating deals such as the $20.1 billion purchase of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo SAB in June. Lemann’s largest asset is his 10 percent stake in AB InBev, worth more than $14.7 billion. He declined to comment for this story.

After Batista and Lemann, the richest person in Brazil is Dirce Camargo, the widow of the founder of industrial conglomerate Camargo Correa SA. She controls a fortune of $12.8 billion, trailed by banker Joseph Safra with $10.6 billion, according to Bloomberg’s ranking.

Lemann’s partners Telles and Sicupira are the fifth and sixth-richest Brazilians, with respective net worths of $8.6 billion and $7.1 billion.

Batista’s empire will speed up revenue growth starting in 2013 and 2014, EBX Group Co. said in an e-mailed statement. His holding company has close to $9 billion in cash.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Cuadros in Sao Paulo at acuadros@bloomberg.net; Juan Pablo Spinetto in Rio de Janeiro at jspinetto@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Newcomb at pnewcomb2@bloomberg.net

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