What is the greatest business spirit

Who is driving Brazil's economy?

Eike Batista, until 2012 the richest man in Brazil, is considered a dynamic entrepreneur who is willing to take risks. His holding company EBX is one of the largest in the country, through which he controls, among other things, an oil and gas empire. Batista has a Brazilian father and a German mother: an “absolutely explosive” mixture, he told Frankfurter Allgemeine. His mother bequeathed him discipline, his father flexibility - and “to think higher and further”: qualities that have brought Batista a fortune of at times 30 billion dollars. At first, the start of his career hardly suggested this. He broke off his engineering studies in Aachen and temporarily sold insurance. Then he took a liking to the gold and diamond business. At the age of 23 he returned to Brazil and earned six million dollars - founding capital for EBX, which today unites numerous corporations and subsidiaries with a focus on oil and natural gas extraction, power generation, iron ore extraction, steel production and logistics. The X as a sign of the multiplication of the turnover has each of them in their name. But after the breathtaking rise, the fall followed in 2012. The entrepreneur lost a lot of money and is struggling with immense problems. Batista had to cut back, especially on the stock exchange, where his companies had previously made billions in profits: In June 2012 alone, the shares of his subsidiary OGX, which specializes in oil and natural gas production, fell by 40 percent. Overall, Batista's fortune melted from 30 billion dollars in March 2012 to ten billion in March 2013. The “super port” of Açu is symptomatic of the most recent setbacks. Batista's showcase project is to unite its various corporations: his logistics group LLX build the port in which the ore mined by the subsidiary MMX is to be shipped; and Batista's OSX is supposed to process the crude oil that will soon be extracted. In addition to the port, which is to create 50,000 new jobs, a city of 250,000 is planned to be created especially for dock workers. But the huge project has been delayed, and the original opening date in 2012 was not met. The once most colorful entrepreneur in Brazil has lost some of its reputation as a result. But Batista remains confident and is currently working on reforming his empire. Batista has also become more cautious in his private life. The passionate motorboat driver, who became world champion with his “Spirit of the Amazon”, gave up the sport for the sake of his sons, whom he has with his ex-wife, Carnival Queen Luma de Oliveira.

Gisele Bündchen In 2012, with an estimated annual income of $ 45 million, was not only the top-earning model in the world, she is also a serious factor in the Brazilian economy: She knew how to turn her name into a global brand. Companies that advertise with her regularly see sales increases, and she is an entrepreneur herself. Her best-known products include the “Ipanema” shoe collection by shoe manufacturer Grendene, which she participated in, and her “Gisele Bündchen Brazilian Intimates” underwear collection by Hopes, the Brazilian counterpart to Victoria's Secret. In addition, there is the Sejaa Pure Skincare cosmetics company founded by Bündchen, which offers environmentally friendly cosmetics. Grendene became the largest shoe manufacturer in Brazil in 2012 and continues to grow - thanks to cuffs. With their help as an advertising icon, Grendene now also reaches consumers with higher incomes. Their own collection, on the other hand, is inexpensive and relies on ecologically sustainable processing of the shoes, which appeals to middle-class customers. According to Forbes, "Ipanema" now represents 63 percent of Grendenes' exports. The connection with Bündchen also brings such successes to other companies: In 2007, the American economist Fred Fuld developed the so-called “Gisele Bündchen Stock Index”, which shows the performance of the companies in which Bündchen is involved or which she represents (including Volkswagen and Disney) the stock exchange compared with the average development of the Dow Jones index. Shares of the companies that had Bündchen under contract, rose by 29 percent, significantly more than the Dow Jones with 6.5 percent. According to Fuld, this “cuff effect” also works the other way round. The shares of the parent company of Victoria’s Secret fell 31 percent when Bündchen terminated her contract with the underwear company in 2007. At the age of 32, Bündchen advanced from an international model to a successful entrepreneur - according to Forbes, she even has the chance to become Brazil's first self-made billionaire.


Since the beginning of 2012, Maria das Graças Foster has been running Petrobras, South America's top-selling company. The chemical engineer and business administration graduate is not only the first woman to head the semi-state mineral oil company, but also the first chairman of a large oil and gas company worldwide, which according to the ranking company PFC Energy ranked third among the world's largest energy companies in 2010, most recently however fell back to seventh place. Graças Foster knows the company like hardly anyone. At the age of 24 she started working as an intern at Petrobras; she was trained within the group and got to know department by department over a period of 36 years. Before she was appointed CEO by Dilma Rousseff, she headed the oil company's gas and energy department for five years. The two women have known each other since 1998, Graças Foster was working on a Petrobras pipeline project, Rousseff was an unknown energy functionary in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Graças Foster is considered tireless and determined - which earned her the nickname “Caveirão” after the armored vehicle used by the police in the favelas. Born in Caratinga in southwest Brazil in 1953, she grew up in one of the most dangerous favelas in Rio. To supplement her family income, she collected recycled paper as a child. She needs such persistence today. In the first year of her tenure, the company's profits were halved: large production projects and new refineries were delayed, and because Petrobras was unable to meet the rising oil needs of the middle class, the company had to import oil and sell it at low domestic prices with high losses. The decline in production is due not least to the many previously delayed maintenance work that Graças Foster ordered after taking office. The new CEO is open about the challenges, predicting stagnation or even losses for 2013. But she is decidedly optimistic about the long-term future of the company: By 2020, total oil production is to be doubled to 4.2 million barrels per day. Graças Foster will show full commitment for this. For Petrobras, she once stated, she was "ready to die".

Nizan Guanaes, Owner of Grupo ABC, the largest communications company in Brazil, is considered to be one of the most creative entrepreneurs of his time who is not afraid of grand gestures. When he chose the name "ABC" for his company and it was pointed out that he was not allowed to use it without further ado, he quickly secured the Portuguese alphabet as a trademark. In 2012 he booked an entire hotel for the “Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity” - cost: half a million dollars. But the coup paid off: the customers housed there turned the hotel into a “networking hub”, as had been hoped. Unusual and innovative company management helped Guanaes to make Grupo ABC an industry leader in record time. In just eleven years, the company has also moved up into the "Top 20" global communications companies, according to the specialist magazine Advertising Age. In 2008 Grupo ABC opened the first branches abroad; Today it has branches in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, New York and San Francisco with 1,600 employees who look after more than 150 customers. Guanaes sees itself as a globalized Brazilian; this also shapes his philosophy. In spite of all his success, he is primarily concerned with increasing the popularity of his country - with a firm belief in the future of the Brazilian market.

The empire of Edir Macedo rests on two pillars: the 68-year-old heads Rede Record, the oldest and (in terms of audience share) largest radio and television network in Brazil, and he leads, with no less business spirit, the universal church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus) , a New Pentecostal church whose founding made Macedo a national celebrity. "O Bispo" (The Bishop) is one of the richest religious leaders in the world with a private fortune of $ 1.1 billion.

Macedo comes from a Catholic family, but already attended Pentecostal services in his youth - from which he was completely absorbed: "The feeling was indescribable ... As if a light shone in me that fills my whole body," he writes in his autobiography. The former lottery employee founded the universal church in the premises of a former funeral home in 1977, which has since been joined by five million people. With staged miraculous healings under oversized illuminated crosses, the theologian, who has now received his doctorate, fills entire stadiums and collects enormous sums of money. The universal church of the Kingdom of God is now represented with a total of 4,700 temples in 172 countries worldwide. 9600 priests were trained for church doctrine and mission. The central part of the sermon is the gospel of prosperity, which links faith with financial success. Macedo also has that with Rede Record: In 1989 he bought the then indebted radio network for 45 million dollars. Today its value is estimated at two billion. The company also includes a 24-hour news channel - the first in Brazil - three regional and a number of local newspapers, a film production company, a travel company and a small bank. While Macedo had to endure a series of lawsuits for tax evasion, money laundering and donation embezzlement over the past decade, today his business is largely silent. Rede Record, which broadcasts church television between midnight and early morning, broadcast the 2012 Olympics. Otherwise, the television program consists of telenovelas, some of which have been specially produced, and American TV series and feature films, in which morality is not taken seriously.

Macedo also plays a political role: The number of Protestant Brazilians is growing steadily - they now make up over 22 percent of the population. This also increases its importance as a voter bloc. The political arm of the universal church, the Republican Party of Brazil, supported Lula da Silva and also his successor Rousseff - in return they were given certain say. Macedo's nephew Marcelo Crivella, also a priest of the Universal Church, currently heads the Ministry of Fisheries.