Billionaire Eurnekian in Talks With Batista on Plant Stake

Jan 11, 2014 5:38 pm ET

(Updates with plant site visit in sixth paragraph.)

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Argentine billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian is in talks to buy a stake in a Brazil semiconductor venture from Eike Batista as he expands operations in Latin America’s largest economy, a press official said.

Eurnekian’s Corporacion America is in negotiations to acquire Batista’s 33 percent stake in the SIX Semicondutores SA startup, Carolina Barros, head of communications for the Argentine billionaire’s holding company, said in a telephone interview late yesterday. She declined to provide details on the amount or timing of a transaction.

SIX, which also counts Brazil’s National Development Bank BNDES and International Business Machines Corp. among shareholders, was set up in 2012 to invest about 1.2 billion reais ($509 million) in a semiconductor factory in Ribeirao das Neves, near the Minas Gerais state capital of Belo Horizonte. The company plans to build chips for use in industrial and medical applications, a niche that generates higher profit margins, according to its website.

Neither Batista nor a press representative at his EBX Group Co. replied to an e-mail seeking comment on the negotiations. Press officials for BNDES, the government of Minas Gerais state and IBM declined to comment.

Plant Visit

Eurnekian, who has a net worth of at least $1.3 billion, is expanding operations in Brazil after starting production of chips for credit cards, mobile phones and electronic identification in neighboring Argentina last year through a venture called Unitec Blue. Corporacion America has concessions in more than 49 airports in Latin America and Europe, including Brazil’s Natal and Brasilia terminals.

Eurnekian is scheduled to make a visit to SIX’s plant site on Jan. 13 together with BNDES’ president Luciano Coutinho, Corporacion America’s Barros said today via e-mail.

Batista, 57, is selling assets after oil deposits he once valued at $1 trillion turned out to be duds, triggering an investor confidence crisis that ended up with his flagship oil producing unit requesting protection from creditors in October.

The Rio de Janeiro-based entrepreneur, once the world’s eighth-richest person after listing six companies between 2006 and 2012, ceased being a billionaire last year as debt mounted.

--Editors: Sylvia Wier, Joe Sabo