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Brazilian billionaire hopes to court Apple for device assembly


The eighth richest man in the world hopes he will be able to convince Apple to assemble its products in Brazil, rather than in sometimes-controversial facilities in China.

According to MacMagazine in Brazil, Eike Batista is looking to court businesses to fill in 90 square miles of space at the Port of Acu. He said bringing Apple to Brazil would benefit the country, as customers there would likely no longer have to "pay twice what you pay in the United States."

Batista is clearly dreaming big, as his backup plan is to pitch his plan to carmaker BMW. Construction work is already under way on the Port of Acu, a $1.6 billion project in southeast Brazil.

Batista is a Brazilian entrepreneur who made his fortune in the mining industry. As of 2010, the 53-year-old has a total net worth of $27 billion, and he has publicly stated he hopes to eventually become the richest person in the world. For comparison, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has a net worth of $6.1 billion, making him the 42nd wealthiest American.

Apple's dependance on companies in the Far East to create and assemble its products has at times been a point of controversy. Earlier this year, the iPhone maker was compelled to make a public statement after a rash of suicides occurred at the manufacturing hub of Foxconn in Shenzhen, China.

Apple began auditing its plants in 2006 after a newspaper report suggested workers at a Foxconn plant were treated unfairly and forced to operate under sweatshop-like conditions. Apple now conducts an annual audit of its overseas partners, and last year found that more than half weren't paying their workers valid overtime rates.