Eike Batista - Early Life and Career

Early Life and Career

Batista is one of seven children of businessman Eliezer Batista da Silva, who was Minister of Mines and Energy in the João Goulart and Fernando Collor administrations and a former president of Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, then wholly a state enterprise, between 1961–1964 and 1979–1986. His mother, Jutta Fuhrken, was born in Germany and, from her, Batista says he learned self-esteem and discipline, attributes he considers crucial to his formation as an entrepreneur. After spending his childhood in Brazil, Batista and his family moved to Europe when he was a teenager, due to his father's occupation. They lived in Geneva, Düsseldorf and Brussels. In 1974, he began to study metallurgical engineering at the University of Aachen in Germany. When he was 18 years old, his parents returned to Brazil, yet Batista remained abroad and began selling insurance policies door-to-door to make his living. In interviews, he often mentions that the "stress" and the lessons learned from this experience were essential for his education.

Batista returned to Brazil in the early 1980s and focused his attention on the gold and diamond trades. He established himself as a salesman, contacting producers in the Amazon area and buyers in large metropolitan centers in Brazil and Europe. When he was 23 years old, he started a gold trading firm, called Autram Aurem, using the Inca Sun as the company trademark and symbol. A year and a half later, the company had earned US$ 6 million.

His entrepreneurial instinct and talent led him to implement the first mechanized alluvial gold mining plant in the Amazon, marking the beginning of the EBX Group. At age 29, he became CEO of TVX Gold, a company listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange, thus initiating his relationship with global capital markets. From 1980 to 2000, he created US$ 20 billion in value with the operation of eight gold mines in Brazil and Canada and a silver mine in Chile. Between 1991 and 1996, the value of his company more than tripled.

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