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Former chair of Brazil's Votorantim Group dies, aged 86

By Nicholas Moody

The former chairman of one of Brazil's largest family businesses, Antonio Ermirio de Moraes, has died in Sao Paulo aged 86.

Third-gen Ermirio de Moraes took over the family business, Votorantim Group in 1971, following the death of his father, and helped turn it into one of Brazil's largest conglomerates.

Votorantim Group's businesses, which posted consolidated revenues of BRL26.4 billion (€8.75 billion) in 2013, is now present in more than 24 countries spanning industries from cement, metals and mining to financial services. The group remains 100% family owned.

Born on 4 June 1928, in Sao Paulo, Antonio was one of four children of Jose Ermirio de Moraes, and his wife, Helena Pereira de Moraes.

By the late 1990s, Ermirio de Moraes was head of the group's metallurgy unit when he, along with his fellow third-generation family members, made the decision to drastically re-organise Votorantim's governance structure under a family-controlled board of directors.

The decision removed 13 cousins who worked throughout the group from direct management positions. Their places were taken by non-family managers.

Sociologist José Pastore was author of the biography Antônio Ermírio de Moraes: Memórias de um Diário Confidencial. Speaking at a company organised forum in 2011, Pastore said Antônio Ermírio de Moraes believed that the entrepreneur´s role went well beyond the frontiers of the corporate organisation and should have a social dimension, directing resources to the areas of education, health and the general well being of society.

“Antônio Ermírio defends the idea of a modern entrepreneur who directs his energies at his company and society with the same force,” he said.

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