EBX Group needs partners; Batista stake could fall, Esteves says
* Esteves says 20-30 pct stake "normal," not 60-70 pct
* EBX debt is not a problem, banker Esteves says
* Batista's financial situation "manageable" -Esteves
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 24 (Reuters) - Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista needs partners to help fund the expansion of his EBX Group, a situation that could lead him to cut his stake in EBX companies by more than half, fellow billionaire Andre Esteves told the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.
Batista's ownership of as much as 60 percent to 70 percent of EBX's oil, mining, power, port and shipbuilding companies is not normal, Esteves, the founder and president of Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual Group said in an article published by Estado on Sunday.
Normal would see Batista cutting his holding to about 20 percent to 30 percent, said Esteves, who recently signed up as adviser and banker to Batista and EBX.
In the last year, Batista's companies have seen their share prices plunge, cutting 53 billion reais ($26.4 billion) off the companies' market values and bumping Batista from his spot as Brazil's richest man, the paper said. Investors are concerned Batista will be unable to raise funds needed to transform his companies from cash-burning start-ups to cash-generating operations. All are behind schedule and generate little or no revenue.
"There are various types of partner: financial, strategic, development-banks, the entrepreneur and the capital markets," Esteves told Estado. "I see the excess of ownership of the EBX Group in its projects to be an anomaly. It's natural to have smaller stakes in projects that will pay dividends and generate cash."
On Thursday, Batista said he was in talks to sell more of his MPX Energia SA power-generation company to Germany's E.ON. Continuación...