Ex-Billionaire Batista Faces Fans, Foes in New York-Rio Flight

  • Plans to share news of latest business plans within 20 days
  • Net worth has fallen to negative $561 million, data show

Former billionaire Eike Batista still manages to divide opinions.

Once Brazil’s richest person with a fortune of more than $30 billion, Batista used to travel the world in private jets and helicopters. This week -- with a net worth of negative $561 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg -- he flew back from the U.S. in the business section of a Tam SA flight, where he had to contend with onlookers, including one man who approached him to say he was a fan. Another passenger behind Batista grumbled to himself about the money he lost in the ex-billionaire’s stocks.

Asked what he was doing in New York, Batista, wearing jeans, sneakers and a blazer, said he was researching the hot dog truck market, eliciting laughter from members of his entourage. He then said he will have news to share on his business plans within 20 days.

In an interview Wednesday from Rio’s main airport after the flight, Batista said Brazilian regulators took an "absurd" step when they banned him from managing companies or serving on their boards. He said the ruling handed down Tuesday was without precedent in Brazil. Batista has the right to appeal.

The CVM’s move comes as Batista battles allegations he engaged in insider trading on shares in his own companies. His commodities empire began to crumble after his flagship, an oil driller now called Oleo e Gas Participacoes SA, failed to meet ambitious targets.

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