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"They'll have to build my statue," says Eike Batista

10/23/2012 - 11h29

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CRISTINA GRILLO
LUCAS VETTORAZZO
FROM RIO

The businessman Eike Batista says the government should invest more in his businesses, because he believes that thanks to them, Brazil will have better infrastructure in a few years.

"Someone will have to build a statue of me somewhere," said the billionaire, who met with Folha at his office in downtown Rio, overlooking Guanabara Bay and the Sugar Loaf.

Read excerpts from the interview.

*

Folha - The EBX Group companies have had losses, leading to declines in the value of shares and shareholder discontent...

Eike Batista - Journalists write that there was a loss in the quarter, but it is not a loss, it is investment. A company in the investment phase shows loss on the balance sheet for accounting reasons. But what comes out published creates a loss in the head of the small investor, who sells the shares. Then it goes up, but this shareholder is out. This is a serious group, building a serious business.

To what extent do these declines hinder your business?

They do not bother me, because in some cases I'm buying back the shares. If you do not want me, I want me. I like me.

But the fact is that shareholders gain or lose depending on the performance...

This [EBX] is a live animal. In four years, we have spent R$8 billion to get the generators in the Northeast on line. We will generate 5% of the steady [available] energy in the country. Who is undertaking this scale, building infrastructure projects? Damn, this is not done in six months.

Everything I do is to build Brazil. Someone will have to build a statue of me somewhere. Let's avoid the blackout.

Your nationalist tone puts you closer to the government?

Happy is he who has a guy who thinks of the country 50, 100 years ahead. Doesn't build on top. And scratches his pocket first. Because the funding group comes later. BNDES should come more. I make the case all the time. The foreign pension funds buy me and are my partners. And the Brazilian funds, where are they? Hello, you are losing a 15%, 20% rate of return. But BNDESPar has a stake in group companies.

They have and are coming late. It's good to come with more. If my projects do not succeed, it is Brazil that will suffer. I am a national group and supporting them is what a development bank does. And it's not free. You have to pay back.

Did the disclose that 72.5% of your equity is abroad bother you?

The way they put it bothers me, yes. Ninety percent of my productive capital is invested in Brazil. And the thousands of Brazilians that I employ? Today I have 6000 in the port of Acu.

Tom Jobim said that in Brazil success is a personal offense. Do you think some people are jealous of your life?

Sure. My generation thinks, "Where is the government teat for me to win a contract?" I have no contract with the government. I have my billions at risk.

Translated by DAVE WOLIN