You think losing a $10 bill is bad? Trying losing $33 billion, and with it your ranking among the world's richest men.
That’s what’s happened to Brazilian oil tycoon Eike Batista, who last year was quite literally on top of the world. Life was good, he was eighth richest man on the planet, and once he even vowed to overtake Mexico’s Carlos Slim as the planet's richest man.
It didn't last, and Batista has since watched his $34 billion net worth plummet some $33 billion over 16 months or so, according to Bloomberg. The big problem? His oil conglomerate, OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, lost 90 percent of its value over the last year, leaving Batista with a relatively paltry $200 million when including debts he owes to investors.
Batista, known for his charismatic persona and opulent lifestyle, simply may have been overly optimistic at a time when his country was experiencing strong economic growth. (Brazil’s economy has since fallen on harder times.) Sergio Lazzarini, of the INSPER Business School in Sao Paulo, told BBC News that Batista's business model “was exaggerated in every sense.”
Batista’s optimism nevertheless appears undiminished, even in the face of debts to OGX investors such as General Electric, IBM and Abu Dhabi’s state investment fund Mubadala, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“I will honor all of my obligations,” Batista wrote in a Valor Economico newspaper op-ed last week where he admitted regretting taking his companies public. “I won’t leave a single penny unpaid for each one of my debts.”
At such a vast sum, Batista’s losses stand as the greatest decline in personal net worth since March 2012, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.
Other billionaires who've had hard landings in recent years include Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who lost $17 billion in 2010, as well as Sean Quinn, once known as Ireland’s richest man, who declared bankruptcy in 2011 after being worth $6 billion just 3 years earlier, according to Forbes.