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Brazilian matriarch Dorothea Steinbruch dies, aged 85

By Michael Finnigan

Former billionaire Dorothéa Steinbruch, whose family control steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional and lender Banco Fibra SA, died at the weekend aged 85.

Steinbruch was the widow of Mendel Steinbruch, one of the founders of Brazilian textile business Vicunha Group, whose current chief executive officer is their son Ricardo. Their second son Benjamin is CEO of Companhia Siderurgica Nacional.

The matriarch made most of her wealth from her stake in Companhia Siderurgica Nacional. However, the miner has seen its market value plummet by $40 billion since 2008 and is currently worth $1.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Banco Fibra alike has fallen upon hard times and has seen five straight annual losses, but the family are unlikely to walk away as shareholders and management can be help responsible for debt of a failed bank under Brazilian law.

The devastating financial loss has resulted in Dorothéa Steinbruch and family being removed from the Forbes Billionaire list in 2014. She was previously ranked as the 205th richest person in the world in 2009.

Steinbruch leaves behind her sons, Benjamin and Ricardo, as well as a daughter, Elisabeth, who is on the board at Banco Fibra.  

The second generation family business had revenues of R$1,170 million in 2011.