Eike Batista was once known as the richest person in Brazil and for telling Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to "watch out" because he was poised to surpass him as the world's wealthiest person. Nowadays, he is best known as "the guy who lost $35 billion in a single year", despite the fact that he is now trying to stage a comeback, according to Bloomberg.
Notably, in an interview with Bloomberg, he offered some advice for Elon Musk, comparing Tesla to his failed company, OGX, which eventually went bust under a mountain of debt. OGX had promised greater sales than it delivered and eventually crumbled under its debt load.
"Elon Musk is suffering from this right now,” Batista said.
Batista says that the sudden downfall of his oil company offers a cautionary tale for Tesla investors. Both men were known for attacking short-sellers and both men were well known for making market moving announcements on social media. Additionally, just like Musk, Batista came under scrutiny from regulators for doing so – Brazil's securities commission this week banned Batista from running a publicly traded company for seven years and issued him a $132 million fine.
The two have a personal relationship that includes Batista "assisting with Musk's social agenda" when Musk was in Rio. "I helped him to go to some parties,” Batista said.
And just as Tesla risks being relegated to a niche player in autos, OGX still exists as a minor producer. But Batista's biggest concern at Tesla is, oddly, the quality of the interior of the vehicles. It’s surprisingly an angle that short-sellers haven’t really dwelled on too much.
“You can choose a Mercedes, Audi, or Jaguar that are cheaper than his SUVs, and you sit in there and see the interior; you can’t compete! If you don’t correct this, you fall behind,” Batista said of Tesla's interiors.
Tesla is reportedly preparing a revamp of its Model S that will include higher-end seats.
Batista doesn’t see Tesla bringing down Musk's other companies, and he credits Musk for already "altering the course of history". Batista said: “He provoked a beautiful and massive move toward change. We are perfectionists, we are nation-builders.”
As for his own personal business plans, Batista says he is looking forward and not worried about the past.
He concluded: “The difficulty is for people to understand that my relation to money is very different. I didn’t mind breaking my empire. You can’t let projects of that scale stop; if it stops for 2, 3, 4 years, sometimes you can’t catch up.”
Sounds like a great excuse for a business failing – maybe Musk will borrow it if he finds himself in Batista's shoes.