Colombia entices LatAm magnates

Eike BatistaWhat do the world’s richest man and the world’s eighth-richest man have in common? Colombia, it seems.

Just as Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, announced he was eyeing Colombia’s burgeoning oil industry, Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest man, said he is planning to raise up to $1.5bn selling shares in his Colombian coal assets in a global offering.

The flamboyant Batista has vowed to unseat Slim as the world’s richest man, and Colombia is a forming a notable part of his plan.

The Brazilian baron is investing some $5bn in Colombian coal and oil and has expressed interest in the ambitious portfolio of infrastructure projects the Andean nation has slated for the next four years.

Shares in his Colombia Coal Co, or CCX , a subsidiary of MPX Energia, will be sold on the Bogotá, London and São Paulo exchanges by early 2012, Batista said in a conference call.

The oil company he controls, GX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes, expects to begin producing oil in Colombia next year.

Batista graces the front page of local business magazine Dinero this week, which says his “specialty” is making himself a bridge between big investors in the developed world and audacious mining and petroleum projects in emerging markets.

Slim, meanwhile, views Colombia’s oil industry, which has been reinvigorated by significant security improvements in areas once controlled by the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, as part of a broad commodities play.

“We’re looking at what to do beyond the telecommunications business that we’ve been doing for 10 years in Colombia,” Slim said in an interview with Bloomberg in New York.

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