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Batista quits as LLX chairman as EBX breakup continues

Brazilian Eike Batista, Chairman and CEO, EBX Group speaks at the lunch panel discussion "Global Overview: Shifting Fortunes" at the Milken
Brazilian Eike Batista, Chairman and CEO, EBX Group speaks at the lunch panel discussion "Global Overview: Shifting Fortunes" at the Milken

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista quit as chairman of Brazilian port operator LLX Logística SA on Wednesday, after agreeing to sell control of the company to U.S. investment firm EIG Global Energy Partners LLC earlier this month.

Batista, 56, and close adviser, Aziz Ben Ammar, have relinquished their seats on the company's board, according to a securities filing. Roberto D'Araújo Senna, who was already on his second mandate as a board member, will replace Batista as chairman of LLX.

The news comes after Washington, D.C.-based EIG agreed on August 14 to invest 1.3 billion reais ($548 million) in LLX, providing enough cash to help finish the Açu Superport in Rio de Janeiro state. The deal will give EIG control of LLX.

Batista has seen his fortune, listed as the world's seventh-biggest last year by Forbes Magazine, fall by more than $25 billion over the past 18 months. Grupo EBX has suffered from a series of project delays, mounting debt and dwindling confidence in some of its main companies.

Shares of LLX rallied on the news. The stock, which has plunged 30.4 percent so far this year, gained almost 2 percent on Wednesday to 1.68 reais.

According to JPMorgan Securities analysts led by Fernando Abdalla, the capital injection stemming from the EIG transaction is likely to drive shares to between 1.70 reais and 2.70 reais, down from a prior estimate of 2.8 reais to 4.0 reais, because of dilution. The capital injection should conclude within 60 days.

Batista had been LLX's largest shareholder ahead of the EIG deal and had said he would leave the company's board towards the deal's conclusion. He will retain a "relevant" stake and also have the right to pick a member of the board.

Recent steps by Batista to become a minority shareholder in some of his Grupo EBX companies are helping the former billionaire shore up EBX, once valued at $60 billion. The value of EBX assets, comprising businesses from logistics to oil and gas, to mining and shipbuilding, is now less than $5 billion.

The breakup of EBX began early in July, when Batista stepped down as chairman of MPX Energia SA , EBX Group's most promising company, ceding control of the firm to Germany's E.ON SE .

($1 = 2.37 Brazilian reais)

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Roberta Vilas Boas; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Bernadette Baum)

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