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08.15.

Eike Batista Has Lost $34.3 Billion In The Last 12 Months

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Eike Batista was born November 3, 1965 in Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil. His father was the Minister of Mines and Energy for a state-owned conglomerate. As a teenager, Batista moved with his family to Europe when his father was promoted to new positions in Switzerland, Germany then Belgium. After the family returned to Brazil, the 22 year old Batista stayed in Europe and took a job as a door to door insurance salesman. When he was 23, Eike moved back to Brazil where he launched a gold trading company called Autram Aurem. Over the next 20 years, he went on to launch five new companies that specialized in mining gold, silver, natural gas, petroleum and various other commodities. The companies were controlled by Eike’s umbrella firm, EBX Group.

Eike’s wealth began to soar in the mid-90s, thanks to booming markets in commodities, real estate, entertainment, tourism and hospitality in Brazil. Pretty soon, Mr. Batista found himself sitting on a bonafide 10 figure bank account. When times were good, Eike violated one of the most important rules of modern business: Never personally guarantee anything. If your business borrows money, never personally guarantee to pay the loan back.

In December 2010, Eike Batista told 60 Minutes that Carlos Slim should watch out, because some day soon he would be stealing the Mexican tycoon’s title as richest person in the world. Two months later, Batista told Business Week that within 10 years his net worth would top $100 billion. Bold statements for a man whose net worth at the time was just $8 billion, compared to Carlos Slim’s $63 billion. But fast forward two years and those predictions didn’t seem so crazy after all. As worldwide commodities markets continued to soar, by August, 2012, Batista’s net worth grew an astonishing 331% to $34.5 billion. That was enough to make him the richest person in South America and the eighth richest person in the world.

Unfortunately, August 2012 turned out to be the absolute peak of the worldwide commodities market and subsequently Eike Batista’s personal wealth. Over the last 12 months, Batista’s OGX has declined 87% after oil production slowed from 750,000 barrels per day to just 15,000. The collapse of mineral prices equally obliterated Batista’s remaining four companies. Making matters worse, because Eike personally guaranteed $3.5 billion worth of corporate loans, a variety of creditors began to circle him like vultures.

In less than a year, Eike Batista has seen his wealth decline 99.4%, from $34.5 billion to just $200 million. If this decline remains or gets worse, it may turn out to be the largest evaporation of personal wealth in human history. After his Playboy model wife left him, he actually began parking his $1.2 million Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR in the living room, because he could. In recent weeks, Eike has been forced to the Benz along with mansions, artwork, a $19 million racing yacht and three private jets. Only time will tell if Eike can make a comeback, but things are certainly not looking good at the moment. Eike himself announced over twitter that anyone who bets against him now will be “caught with their pants down”. I guess anything is possible… How would you feel if you lost $34.5 billion in 12 months?

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07.24.

Fangio Mercedes Racer W196 Sells for a Record $29.7m at Bonhams Auction

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For classic car aficionados, Ferrari and Mercedes are the 2 names that will never lose its sheen in terms of the value escalation in the vintage and classic car market. We had earlier told you about the most historic 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix racing car scheduled to go on Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in Britain. The car driven by the five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina has been sold for a record $29.7m, making it the most valuable motor vehicle ever sold at auction, beating the previous record of $16.39 million set by a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa at the Gooding & Company’s sale in 2011.

Though there have been few private sales of vintage Ferrari cars that have dominated the Guinness record book, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 single-seater became the most expensive Mercedes-Benz car ever sold at auction.
Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, said: “I have handled some of the world’s most desirable and important motor cars during a motoring auction career spanning five decades, but I have reached a peak today with this legendary Grand Prix car. It is not only one of the most significant motor cars of the 20th century, but also the most important historic Grand Prix racing car ever offered for sale.”

The post-war example of Mercedes automotive excellence, the car with chassis number ’00006′ also has not just historical significance, but the car also sports innovative design. The W196 racer was built due to a change in the FIA governing body of international motor sport Grand Prix regulations in 1954, which required cars to have unsupercharged engines of no more than 2½-litres.

It was the first open-wheeled car with a lightweight body, an in-line 8-cylinder fuel-injected engine, with power take-off from the center of the engine, all-independent suspension, and with three different wheelbases.

The iconic car is one of just nine surviving examples with six of these owned by Mercedes and the rest of the three are in museums. Reportedly, this one is a very rare privately-owned example sold by the Emir of Qatar, who acquired it from the German industrialist Friedhelm Loh about eight years ago.

After the W196 cars with their enclosed wheels proved difficult to place upon the more twisty venue of the following British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Fangio requested an open-wheeled W196 variant for the following German Grand Prix on the twisty 14.2-mile Nurburgring road circuit. Mercedes-Benz reacted instantly, tailoring new cars ’00005′ and ’00006′ to Fangio’s recommendation.

It was in chassis ’00006′ that Fangio immediately won the German Grand Prix. He then repeated the feat in the following Swiss Grand Prix on the daunting Bremgarten forest circuit at Berne – storming round at uncatchable pace in ’00006′ to win by 58.7 seconds from Argentine compatriot Jose Froilan Gonzalez’s out-classed Ferrari. This Swiss victory was Fangio’s third in four Grand Prix races, and assured him of his second Drivers’ World Championship title.

 

 

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07.15.

Warren Buffett Makes a $2 Billion Donation to Bill Gates Foundation

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Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and chief executive officer, saw a surge in his fortune as his company shares (BRK/A) rose by 29 per cent to $115.42 this year.  This perhaps prompted him to revise his annual contribution to the Bill Gates Foundation as this time he has give a record $2 billion which is a donation that has surpassed his previous record of $1.8 billion that he had donated in 2008.  Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Corp., the second richest man in the world and a close friend of Warren Buffett had inspired him to take up philanthropy through the foundation that was set up by him and his wife, Melinda Gates.

Buffett became a trustee of the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and is now the world’s third richest man whose net worth amounts to $61 billion, as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which ranks the wealthiest people on a daily basis.  Buffett has taken a philanthropic pledge as he contributes to various charities such as the Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation as well as his own charities Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which has been named after Mr. Buffett’s late wife, and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which has been named after Mr. Buffett’s son.

Buffett has also donated around 1.75 million worth of Class B shares to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which supports the cause of education amongst other causes.  He also gave around 1.22 million shares to his other family charitable foundations- the Howard G. Buffett Foundation; the NoVo Foundation that is managed by his son Peter and his wife; and the Sherwood Foundation.   Buffett has pledged to donate to five charities that include the Bill Gates Foundation that is focused on alleviating poverty around the world.  Mr. Buffett had pledged to donate around $31 billion seven years ago to the Bill gates Foundation and had also pledged that a majority of his fortune would be dedicated to philanthropy and the wealth would go to the five charitable foundations that he supports.

Buffett has also campaigned considerably for promoting charity amongst the wealthy people through an initiative called ‘Giving Pledge’.  Buffett is known for his views on accumulating wealth and he states his view about philanthropy: “The truth is I have never given a penny away that had any utility to me.”  The billionaire goes on to say how difficult it is for the ‘not so rich’ to donate as they would perhaps be giving up on a movie, a dinner date or even a trip to Disneyland.   In fact, both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett had effectively managed to rope in wealthy contributors to give away a portion of their wealth by committing themselves to the ‘Giving Pledge’.

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07.03.

How Walt Disney’s Housekeeper Secretly Died A Multi-Millionaire

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On June 10th 1994, a group of friends and family gathered at a lawyer’s office in Santa Monica, California to read the last will and testament of 79 year old Thelma Pearl Howard. Thelma had died quietly in a nursing home just a few weeks earlier just 16 days shy of her 80th birthday. From the outside, Thelma Howard had lived a very modest life. Her most notable achievement was working as Walt Disney’s personal housekeeper for more than thirty years. She cooked all of Walt’s meals and helped raise his two young daughters. For this service she was paid a modest annual salary, perhaps slightly more than the average housekeeper because her boss was so wealthy and famous. So, you can imagine the utter shock when Thelma’s lawyer announced that she had in fact controlled a multi-million dollar stock portfolio and was leaving the half of her impressive net worth to charity. How exactly did a lowly housekeeper end up dying with millions of dollars in the bank? The story is truly heartwarming and inspirational.

Thelma Pearl Howard was born in June of 1915 to a family of very poor farmers in Southwick, Idaho. Thelma was the second of five children. Her childhood was filled with pain starting at the age of six when her mother tragically died during child birth. Two more siblings died unexpectedly before she reached the age of 18. Thelma briefly moved to Spokane, Washington to attend college but was forced to drop out before completing a full year of classes because she couldn’t afford the tuition anymore. After Spokane, Thelma moved to Los Angeles where she held down three jobs to make ends meet. She poured drinks at a soda fountain, cleaned houses and worked part time as a secretary.

Throughout the thirty years that Thelma worked for the Disney family, she was paid a little more than the average housekeeper’s salary. She was also given free room and board which made her paycheck go a long way, but would never make her “rich”. On the other hand, working for Walt Disney presented Thelma with a very unique perk. Every Christmas and birthday, Walt gave Thelma shares of Disney stock as a bonus. As the Disney empire expanded, the number of shares she received grew. Because Thelma respected Walt so much, she never sold a single share in her entire lifetime and even used some of her own money to buy more on the side.

Over the years, Thelma’s stock portfolio slowly ballooned. A few shares became a hundred. A hundred became a thousand. A thousand became ten thousand and so on. When Thelma first began receiving the shares, owning Disney stock wasn’t particularly exciting. Then, between 1945 and 1965, the company exploded into the cultural phenomenon the world knows and loves today. Disneyland opened in July 1955 and was an immediate success. Then Disney studios went on a creative tear churning out a series of classic films like “Lady and the Tramp” (1955), “Sleeping Beauty” (1959), “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961) and “Mary Poppins” (1964). Mary Poppins earned $30 million at the box office, more than any other movie in 1964, and with re-releases would go on to earn the inflation adjusted equivalent of $375 million. As the company grew, so did its stock price. Thanks to those annual gifts and a number of stock splits, by the time Thelma died in 1994 she had amassed an astonishing 193,000 shares of Disney which at the time were worth $9.5 million!

 

 

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