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Odebrecht founder dies in Brazil, aged 93

Norberto Odebrecht, the man who turned his father’s small engineering firm into a construction empire, has died at the age of 93 in his hometown of Salvador, Brazil.

The grandson of German immigrants, his eponymous family business Grupo Odebrecht is today Latin America’s largest engineering group, with revenues of R$96.9 billion (€32.2 billion) and operations in 23 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, as well as the Americas.

The company has won a number of multi-billion dollar government contracts, including construction and refurbishment of 12 stadiums that played host to the recent Fifa World Cup, held in Brazil.

Odebrecht stepped down as chief executive of his empire in 1991 and was succeeded by his son Emilio, who is now head of the construction company’s board.

Odebrecht’s grandson Marcelo has been chief executive of the company since 2008.

According to Forbe’s 2013 list of Brazil’s richest individuals, Odebrecht had created a family fortune of R$10.1 billion.

In 1965, Odebrecht established the Odebrecht Foundation, which provided his employees with additional social security that was not provided by the state.

Since 2003, the foundation’s focus has shifted to education for adolescents, particularly in his home state of Bahia, on the east coast of Brazil.

In 2010 the group was awarded the IMD-Lombard Odier global family business award, with the judges impressed by the group’s cultural and ethical values, as well as it revenues, which had increased five fold between 2000 and 2009. 

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