Eike Batista is Brazil’s richest man. He is a controversial figure, who has had many ups and downs in business. His net worth is reckoned to have been as high as $34.5 billion, but the latest estimate is that he is worth $20,4 billion after recent losses in the value of the shares of the six publicly-traded companies that he controls. It is still a vast amount of money, but his stated aim of overtaking Carlos Slim to become the world’s richest man by 2015 seems a little far-fetched. Slim is reckoned to be worth $69 billion. Batista is involved in Formula 1 as a backer of Bruno Senna at Williams. The team has the support of OGX, the largest independent company for the exploration and production of oil and natural gas in Latin America. In recent years he has diversified into many other ventures, including real estate, high technology and sports management. The 55-year-old, a former powerboat racer, has recently announced an interesting new deal with rising Brazilian football star Neymar. The 20-year-old has signed over the control of his career and his image rights (for life) to Batista’s Talent IMX company.
“With IMX Talent we will develop the careers of some of Brazil’s biggest sporting icons and discover more talents,” Batista said.
Neymar joins a number of other rising stars in the IMX Talent portfolio, including Olympic long jump gold medallist Maurren Maggi and sailor Torben Grael.
Neymar is much in demand and is reckoned to be pulling in as much as $1.5 million a month from his club and his sponsors. He has turned down offers from several European clubs and will stay with Santos for at least two more years.
It remains to be seen whether or not Batista will get any more involvement in Formula 1. Brazil is looking for new stars as Felipe Massa comes towards the end of his career. Senna is trying hard to establish himself as a frontrunner, but behind him are others who have struggled to find the funding to get to F1, notably Lucas di Grassi, Felipe Nasr, Luis Razia, Lucas Foresti and others.
The only problem with Batista’s idea is that some of the top F1 teams insist that their drivers sign over their image rights for the term of their contracts, which means that deals would need to be struck if a suitable Brazilian gets into that position.