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Brazil fuels family business interest

The world’s second-largest sugar trader Bunge Limited, controlled by descendants of three different families, plans to invest $2.5 billion in Brazil to boost its existing business in the rapidly growing economy.

The world’s second-largest sugar trader Bunge Limited, controlled by descendants of three different families, plans to invest $2.5 billion in Brazil to boost its existing business in the rapidly growing economy.

The New York-based company said in a statement that it plans to invest the money in eight of its existing mills in the South American country over the next five years. According to the group, the additional financial support will increase the company’s sugar-crushing capacity by 50% to 30 million tonnes of cane a year.

The announcement follows the group’s strong second-quarter results, which saw its profits more than quadruple to $18 million, up from $4 million for the same period the previous year.

The contribution of the company’s sugar and bio-energy division to overall sales during the quarter also grew significantly, aided by soaring sugar prices, said the report.

The strong growth comes as Brazil – the second-largest producer of ethanol, which is made using sugar– sees high demand for the product, commonly used as fuel for around 90% of new cars manufactured there.

The country has attracted much attention from family businesses over the last few months, thanks to its growing economy. Earlier in August, the world’s largest family business Walmart was reportedly in talks to bid for Carrefour’s Brazilian operations, while Australia’s Lowy family-controlled shopping centre Westfield acquired a stake in a shopping chain in Brazil.

Bunge Limited was founded in 1818 by Johann Peter Gotlieb Bunge in Amsterdam and relocated to Antwerp in 1859. The second-generation of the Bunge family took the business to the US and Brazil in the 1900s.

The Bunge family later involved four other families in its operations in the 19th century to expand its interests to textiles, paint, chemicals and insurance. The families included Hirsch, Born, Engels and De La Tour.

The families are much known for keeping a low profile after two third-generation members of the Born family were kidnapped in the 1970s.

Bunge Limited was registered in 1994 and went public in 2001. Today, descendants of the Born, Engels and the De La Tour families are on the board of directors.

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