News from Brazil

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Brazil Weekly, March 28th

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

POLITICS

A volatile mix of vast new oil wealth and election-year politics is straining relations between Brazil’s states and complicating President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s efforts to pass a landmark oil reform before the October polls. An amendment passed by Congress’ lower house this month that would take special income from Brazil’s handful of oil-producing states and distribute it among all 26 states has sparked protests and outrage in the losing regions (Reuters).

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged to maintain economic stability by controlling inflation and ensuring fiscal discipline before this year’s national elections. “We are not going to risk economic stability. It has to be maintained,” Lula said (Reuters).

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva saidhe expects to learn as soon as next week about Central Bank President Henrique Meirelles’ political future (Reuters).

Brazil’s Supreme Court will shelve an investigation of alleged tax crimes by central bank President Meirelles after a request from prosecutors (Bloomberg).

Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra widened his lead over Brazilian Cabinet Chief Dilma Rousseff, Folha de S. Paulo reported. The Datafolha poll gave Serra the support of 36 percent of voters and 27 percent for Rousseff (Bloomberg).

Twenty years after the Collor Plan, the ex-president apologized. The current senator, who resigned from the Presidency of the Republic in December 1992 at the end of the impeachment procedures, states that his fall was “orchestrated by big companies” that did not accept losing privileges and competition with foreign products, Fernando Collor said to Agência Senado.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Agriculture ministers from Brazil, Russia, India and China, which together have a third of the world’s arable land, agreed to pool resources to combat famine that affects more than 1 billion people globally. The ministers from the countries collectively known as BRIC signed a pact to create a joint agricultural information base that will help each country to calculate production and consumption balances and establish national grain reserves (Reuters).

The Brazilian mining institute Ibram said the threat by European steel companies to take local iron ore miner Vale before the European Commission on antitrust charges was a desperate act of “colonialism.” (Reuters).

President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s visit to Israel and Palestine concluded in Ramallah, as he expressed his wish that an independent Palestinian state become a reality as soon as possible during a final address to the media (Rio Times).

ECONOMY

Brazil’s economy is at risk of “overheating” and the country’s currency is “overvalued,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategist Ben Laidler said at a conference in New York (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s stock market is forming a “bubble” and may suffer a “correction” next year as valuations soar, according to Gerard Cremoux, co-head of Latin America investment banking at UBS AG (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s unemployment rate rose in February less than forecast by economists, as a recovery in Latin America’s largest economy continued to draw people into the workforce. The jobless rate in February rose to 7.4 percent in February, compared to 7.2 percent in January (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s capital markets and banking associations joined with the stock exchange to create an organization designed to promote the country as a business hub for Latin America (Bloomberg).

BANKING

Goldman Sachs Group, the world’s most profitable securities firm, poached seven bankers from rivals in Brazil to boost its local bond and stock underwriting and securities trading business (Reuters).

Caixa Economica Federal, a government-controlled lender, plans to be the first Brazilian bank to issue local debt with a maturity of at least two years after the central bank opened up the market for such sales (Bloomberg).

OIL & GAS

Petrobras ruled out borrowing to replenish its capital base and could issue new preferred shares  to raise funds for investments (Reuters).

A new well in Brazil’s massive offshore Tupi area has shown high flow rates and could produce up to 30,000 barrels per day (bpd), Petrobras said (Reuters).

BP’s Brazil assets, purchased from Devon Energy Corp. this month, will produce at least 100,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of the decade (Bloomberg).

OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA said it discovered hydrocarbons in the Albian section of the 1- OGX-8-RJS well of Brazil’s Campos Basin (Bloomberg).

OGX may report its first dry well at offshore oil fields as the company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista starts drilling in new areas next month (Bloomberg).

Two big oil related events are heading for Rio this year. The biennial Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference will take place in September and the 33rd IAEE International Conference early June (Brazil Weekly).

With the presence of the president of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Petrobras will inaugurate the Southeast Northeast Integration Gas Pipeline (Gasene), the biggest pipeline in length built in Brazil in the past ten years. The natural gas transportation network in the country expanded between 2003 and 2010 from 5451 kilometers to 9219 kilometers (Brazil Weekly).

Petrobras’ average oil and natural gas production in Brazil and abroad in February topped-out at 2,560,490 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed). This was 3.5% more than a year ago (2,474,680 boed) and 1.4% above the total volume lifted last January (Brazil Weekly).

BIOFUELS

An expected rise in Brazil’s oil output will not threaten its fast-growing biofuels sector as more petroleum will be destined for export while most of its cane-derived ethanol is consumed at home, a government biofuel official said (Reuters).

Wild price volatility in Brazilian ethanol in 2009, which caused prices to double after a panic-driven plunge, should ease as the sector consolidates with wealthy multinationals moving in. Marcos Jank, head of the Brazilian sugarcane industry association Unica, said the year brought two exceptional misfortunes to the sector – inability to repay large debts taken on to fund expansion and unusually wet weather that prevented much cane being harvested (Reuters).

BUSINESS

Cemig, the Brazilian power company controlled by Minas Gerais state, is interested in acquiring assets owned by rivals Ampla and Energias do Brasil to speed up growth in electricity distribution, Chief Executive Djalma Bastos said (Reuters).

Management of John Deere’s Brazilian grain planter and harvester manufacturing plant in Horizontina settled a four-day strike by workers late last week (Reuters).

A Chinese mining company has agreed to buy the Itaminas iron ore mine from a Brazilian business magnate for $1.2 billion. Valor Economico said mine owner Bernardo de Mello sold the 3 million tonne per annum facility to the Chinese state-backed East China Mineral Exploration and Development Bureau (ECE) (Reuters).

Braskem, Latin America’s largest petrochemicals company, may open a second factory to produce polyethylene from sugar cane-based ethanol, once a first plant starts up around October (Reuters).

General Motors GM.UL will invest 1.4 billion reais ($778 million) to modernize and expand two plants in Brazil (Reuters).

Brazil’s high court delayed a decision for two weeks on whether to end Pfizer Inc.’s patent for Viagra in Brazil, the world’s third-biggest market for the impotence drug, after a judge asked to review the case before voting in a key ruling for the $2.5 billion generic drug market (Bloomberg).

REAL ESTATE

Cyrela, Brazil’s largest real estate developer, posted a massive jump in profits in the fourth quarter as it sold more apartments, cut spending and set aside less money for taxes (Reuters).

TRAVEL

Situated on the palm-fringed coast of Brazil’s Bahia state, Trancoso still looks like the hippie getaway that first made the town popular 20 years ago, with its uneven cobblestone streets and dirt roads. Colorfully painted low-rise wooden houses are the norm, even those that now sell $35 wineglasses and $3,000 paintings. Read more about the “freest place in Brazil” (New York Times).

RIO

Rio’s reputation for violent crime precedes it. Films such as ‘City of God’ and ‘Tropa de Elite’ (Elite Troop) have only compounded this image in the eyes of the world, and the city is frequently cited as one of the most dangerous places on earth. When looking to uncover the statistics behind the claims however, the waters are somewhat muddy (Rio Times).

DEFENCE

The president of the Committee on External Relations and National Defense, senator Eduardo Azeredo (PSDB-MG), who also took part in the reception to the king and queen of Sweden at the Senate, recalled that the technical report from the Brazilian Aeronautics about the purchase of 36 fighters to modernize the Brazilian Air Force indicates advantages to the Gripen NG, of the Swedish company Saab (Agencia Senad0).

The Committee on External Relations and National Defense approved, on Thursday (24), an information request to the government on the effects that the announced cuts in the Union Budget will have on strategic programs in the Defense sector. The questions will be sent by the committee to the minister of Planning, Budget and Management, Paulo Bernardo (Agencia Senado).

Brazil Weekly, March 21st

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm

POLITICS

The presidential candidate of Brazil’s ruling party, Dilma Rousseff, gained ground in a new opinion poll but fell short of expectations she could overtake her main rival, Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra. In the poll, 35 percent of voters said they would support Serra of the PSDB party in the Oct. 3 election compared with 30 percent for Rousseff (Reuters).

Presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff won’t choose central bank President Henrique Meirelles as her running mate, said campaign adviser and former Finance Minister Antonio Palocci (Bloomberg).

Central bank President Henrique Meirelles told the Democratic Movement Party, known as PMDB, that he plans to leave his post to run for the role of senator, representing the state of Goias (Bloomberg).

A Brazilian court has ordered President Lula da Silva to pay 5,000 reais ($2,803) for campaigning on behalf of his chosen successor last year while inaugurating a government-built sports complex (Bloomberg).

Brazil revealed a preliminary list of U.S. patents and intellectual property rights it could restrict unless both countries settle a long-standing dispute over U.S. cotton aid (Reuters).

Brazil’s decision to move forward with sanctions on U.S. intellectual property rights as part of a dispute over cotton subsidies may discourage investment in Latin America’s biggest economy, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said (Bloomberg).

President Lula kicked off a Middle East trip in Jerusalem by saying he wants to promote regional peace, after expressing concerns last week that Israel may attack Iran over its nuclear program (Bloomberg).

When President Lula da Silva defends Iran’s right to a nuclear program and makes plans to visit Tehran in May, he is following the path of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The similarities only go so far (Bloomberg).

The PSDB has broken off with president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s foreign policy, senator Arthur Virgílio (PSDB-AM) announced. Virgílio mentioned what he called “a sequence of mistakes” in the national foreign policy since the beginning of Lula’s government. He mentioned, for instance, the expropriation of Petrobras’ assets in Bolivia, the “attempt to push [Hugo] Chávez down our throat as a Mercosul member”, the asylum granted to the ousted Honduras president, Manuel Zelaya, the “absurd friendship declared to Iran’s dictatorship”, the “tolerance with North Korea’s regime” (Brazil Weekly).

ECONOMY

Brazil’s economy added jobs for the second straight month in February, creating a hefty 209,425 payroll positions as companies ramped up hiring amid a strong economic recovery, the government said (Reuters).

Brazil expects a new free trade agreement with Israel to swell bilateral trade to more than $3 billion within five years (Reuters).

Brazilian President Lula da Silva will extend subsidies for low-income housing that were begun last year in a program to build 1 million homes (Bloomberg).

ENERGY

Brazil is expected to invest 100 billion reais ($57 billion) in its electricity sector from 2010 to 2013, of which the BNDES national development bank will finance 60 percent (Reuters).

Power utility Eletrobras will hike investments in 2010 to 9 billion reais ($5.1 billion), up from 5.4 billion reais in 2009 (Reuters).

INFRASTRUCTURE

Brazil will double the size of its railroad expansion plan as it seeks to cut transportation costs and make the country’s goods more competitive abroad (Bloomberg).

Scomi Engineering, a Malaysian builder, and Bombardier Inc., the world’s largest maker of commuter trains and electric locomotives, are part of two groups shortlisted for a monorail project in Sao Paulo. The tender is for the 23.9-kilometer Tiradentes project (Bloomberg).

Transpetro launched the tender to build 20 convoys (80 barges and 20 pusher tugs) that will navigate the Tietê-Paraná waterway, transporting ethanol to the domestic and foreign markets. The socalled Promef Waterway is  a new project under the Fleet Modernization and Expansion Program (Promef) (Brazil Weekly).

OIL

Petrobras said it found light oil in a well off the coast of Sergipe state, part of an ongoing strategy to search for more crude in its existing production blocks (Reuters).

BP will pay $7 billion to Devon Energy for assets that will extend its reach into Brazil and bulk up its position in the Gulf of Mexico, as the world’s top oil companies look to acquisitions to refill depleting reserves (Reuters).

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega may succeed Cabinet Chief Dilma Rousseff as chairman of Petrobras she steps down to campaign for Brazil’s presidency (Bloomberg).

Petrobras was the winner, for the second year in a row, of the Best-Managed Companies in Latin America ranking, published by London-based Euromoney magazine. The Company was also recognized as the best in the Most Useful and Informative Website and Best Managed Company in the Oil and Gas Sector categories (Brazil Weekly).

BANKING

Brazilian banking group Safra and Indian family-owned investment firm Hinduja are in the running to buy KBC’s private banking unit KBL European Private Bankers (Reuters).

Most bank managers fret about bad loans or a run on deposits. Luzia Moraes has to worry about a leak in the hull, bandits and rainstorms that keep clients away for weeks. Ms. Moraes, a 43-year-old former housewife, is at the helm of a swashbuckling new venture in Brazil—as manager of the first floating bank branch on the Amazon river system. From a riverboat, she peddles banking services in a frontier where people don’t have much money—let alone experience with ATMs, savings accounts or personal loans (Wall Street Journal).

RIO

A proposed cut to Rio de Janeiro’s share of Brazil’s oil revenues has provoked a furious reaction in the beach-side city, with officials saying the change would jeopardize its ability to host the World Cup and the Olympic Games (Reuters).

Downtown Rio de Janeiro filled with more than 80,000 people who endured heavy rainfall today to demonstrate against a proposal cutting the state’s share of Brazil’s oil royalties (Bloomberg).

Sérgio Cabral, the governor of Rio, asked the public to join a protest march against the so-called Ibsen amendment that will see Rio state lose out on an estimated R$7 billion per year (Rio Times).

Despite the global economic crisis which paralyzed property markets in much of the rest of the world, Rio’s property market is booming. With the city playing host to both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics the trend looks set to continue over the next five years (Rio Times).

BUSINESS

Steel do Brasil, the Brazilian miner that sold shares last year for the first time, has agreed to buy majority stakes in two Brazilian mining companies for about $435 million with the iron ore market at its most bullish in almost two years (Reuters).

OSX Brasil raised 2.82 billion reais ($1.58 billion) in an initial public offering, less than expected and a setback to billionaire Eike Batista, who controls the start-up shipbuilding and oil services company (Reuters).

The Brazilian subsidiary of Mitsubishi Motors will invest 800 million reais ($454 million) in the next five years to build its four-wheel-drive Pajero Dakar jeep and Lancer sedan (Reuters).

Construtora Norberto Odebrecht is among three consortia that will be allowed to bid on a $1.5 billion contract to build a Panamanian subway (Reuters).

JBS SA, the world’s biggest beef producer, said it agreed to buy Rockdale Beef Ltd in Australia (Bloomberg).

Fiat SpA plans to hire 1,000 people in Brazil by the end of May as it seeks to boost vehicle output by about 6.5 percent. The workers will be hired at a plant in Betim in the state of Minas Gerais (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s Federal Police are investigating whether Sadia SA manipulated export contracts to make illegal money transfers to and from offshore units (Bloomberg).

AIR TRAVEL

Foreigners will be able to take a stake of up to 49 percent in Brazilian airlines compared with the current 20 percent limit, under a government proposal to modernize air transport before Brazil hosts the soccer World Cup and Olympic games (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly, March 14th

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2010 at 11:46 am

POLITICS

Of all the peoples that make up Brazil, the quilombolas have perhaps the most remarkable story. Like the Saramaka in Suriname or Jamaica’s Maroons, they claim to be descended from groups of runaway slaves who founded settlements, or quilombos, deep in the forests. In the 1988 constitution, drawn up after the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship (exactly a century after slavery was abolished), the quilombolas were granted special guarantees to the title on their land, in recognition of their ancestors’ suffering (The Economist).

Brazil’s central bank President Henrique Meirelles is being investigated by the country’s top prosecutor for possible tax crimes, according to a document released by the Supreme Court (Reuters).

In response to illegal U.S. subsidies granted to domestic cotton farmers, Brazil announced this week a list of American products that would be subject to higher rates of import tax by way of retaliation, and economists have warned of a possible trade war between the two countries (Rio Times).

Brazil’s government published a list of U.S. goods subject to import tariffs that will go into effect in 30 days unless both countries reach agreement to solve a long-standing dispute over U.S. cotton subsidies (Reuters).

How serious is the decision by Brazil’s government, announced on Tuesday March 8th, to raise duties on a number of American-made imports? The increases are sizeable for goods such as cosmetics (tariffs will double, to 36%) and many household wares (tariffs will also double, to 40%). And the timing is significant: the news came as America’s commerce secretary, Gary Locke, was due to arrive in Brasilia to promote an export-promotion initiative in America’s 10th-largest export market (The Economist).

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the government will only decide on the purchase of jet fighters after a final assessment by the Defense Ministry and the country’s National Defense Council (Bloomberg).

ECONOMY

Buoyant Brazilian consumers helped Latin America’s biggest economy speed up its recovery in late 2009, lifting expectations the central bank will raise interest rates as early as next week (Reuters).

Brazil’s economy grew in line with expectations in the last three months of 2009, underscoring the country’s steady recovery, government data showed (Reuters).

Brazil’s Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo said the country’s economy will grow close to 6 percent in 2010 after stagnating last year. But he said the government was keeping its forecast for 5.2 percent growth in the budget (Reuters).

Recent comments by Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega that Brazil must prepare its currency for international circulation revived the debate on how to reform the country’s foreign exchange regulations (Reuters).

BUSINESS

OSX Brasil, a Brazilian shipbuilding and oil services company owned by billionaire Eike Batista, doesn’t look like much on paper. Yet if all goes as planned, OSX’s initial public offering could raise up to 9.92 billion reais ($5.6 billion) in the second-biggest ever IPO in Brazil, and one of the largest in the world over the past year (Reuters).

Brazilian energy entrepreneur Eike Batista, who made the biggest leap up Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people this year, is anything but shy about his rapid ascent into the big billionaires club (Reuters).

Brazilian junior miner MMX sees iron exports from Brazilian mines soaring more than fifteen-fold to 32 million tons within six years and expects strong iron prices for at least five years (Reuters).

Brazil’s Justice Ministry has fined Fiat SpA 3 million reais ($1.5 million) for failing to recall thousands of Stilo cars built after 2004 despite an alleged rear-wheel hub problem (Reuters).

Gol Linhas Aereas, Brazil’s second-largest airline, returned to profit in the fourth quarter as revenue rose faster than costs and it made use of tax credits (Reuters).

JBS SA, the world’s largest beef processor, filed to sell shares to Brazilian and foreign investors, according to a securities filing (Reuters).

Canada’s Research in Motionwill start producing BlackBerry smartphones in Brazil underscoring the demand for quicker and more sophisticated handsets (Reuters).

CSN, Brazil’s biggest diversified steelmaking group, will start a gradual spin-off of its main business divisions with an initial public offering of its iron ore unit in a bid to increase the value of the group’s assets (Reuters).

Vale, the largest iron ore producer, told Chinese steelmakers it plans to drop a 40-year tradition of setting annual prices in favor of shorter contracts (Bloomberg).

Vale SA will invest $12.9 billion on projects in 2010, the company’s Marcelo Matos, general manager marketing and business development, said. The company will spend $85 billion on its commodity project pipeline over the next five years (Bloomberg).

OIL

Petrobras said it will invest 79.5 billion reais ($44 billion) this year as it seeks to tap deep-sea offshore crude reserves that could turn Brazil into a major energy exporter (Reuters).

Petrobras said it will appeal a U.S. federal judge ruling ordering it to pay about $639 million to Astra Oil for the 2006 purchase of a refinery (Reuters).

BP is one of the last of the oil majors to enter Brazil’s subsalt boom, but it may have found some value in Devon’s Campos concessions that it announced it bought  in a deal worth $7 billion (Reuters).

Petrobras said it found light oil in its exploratory block in the Llanos basin in Colombia (Reuters).

Renowned for its massive upstream oil potential and pioneering use of ethanol refined from sugar cane, Brazil last month surprised products traders with rare imports of gasoline (Reuters).

Petrobras now owns 100 percent of the 100,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Pasadena Refining System Inc refinery in Texas (Reuters).

As Petrobras faces something of a funding crisis having already blown the vast majority of its US$174 billion budget forecast up to 2013, the control of Brazil’s ‘goldmine’ of pre-salt oil is beginning to show signs of cracking (Rio Times).

REAL ESTATE

Brazilian real estate developer Even Incorporadora and a key shareholder filed to sell shares, in a transaction that could fetch about 632.5 million reais ($354 million), according to a regulatory filing (Reuters).

Gafisa SA, Brazil’s second-largest homebuilder, said it plans to sell 74 million new shares in Brazil (Bloomberg).

PORTS

LLX Logistica, the port company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, said it will invest 1.85 billion reais ($1.04 billion) in 2010 as it develops two port projects. About 1.1 billion reais will be spent on the Superporto do Acu project and 741 million reais on the Porto Sudeste project, both in Rio de Janeiro state (Bloomberg).

HIGH SPEED

Brazil’s transportation regulator said a South Korean-led group may have the best grasp of the South American country’s bidding process and technological needs among six contenders seeking to build and operate a 34.6 billion reais ($19.3 billion) bullet train system (Bloomberg).

RIO

For one year the project to build walls around the favelas of Rio has been underway, yet many continue to question what exactly is the government’s motive for constructing the so called “eco barriers” (Rio Times).

With its stunning views, colonial era mansions, thriving cultural scene and small town feel incongruous with its city center location, Santa Teresa is one of Rio’s oldest and most charming areas. Sitting atop the hill overlooking Centro and Lapa on one side and Botafogo bay on the other, Santa Teresa is antique Rio with a creative character (Rio Times).

Rio State Treasurer Levy reported that 2009 saw significant growth in state tax receipts (8.6%), mainly due to the recovery of the economy and targeted actions to enhance tax collection and supervision. Importantly, the good behavior of revenues helped investment spending grow by R$1.2 billion, which represents a 76% increase from 2008. This growth is largely related to the Programa de Aceleração de Crescimento (PAC), although important outlays in local roads and in health care are also noteworthy. The State Treasury financed 48% of 2008-2009 PAC resources, totaling R$380 million for the two years, with R$292 million in 2009. The year also saw 73% investment growth in transportation, 47% growth in health, 50% growth in education, 38% growth in security and 86% growth in environment conservancy (Brazil Weekly).

Brazil Weekly, March 7th

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

POLITICS

Brazil’s presidential election in October looks less risky to investors than any other in the last quarter of a century and the economy has bounced back after a brief recession, but there are still investment risks to watch in Brazil this year (Reuters).

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to win Brazil’s support for more sanctions against Iran and said Tehran would not talk seriously about its nuclear program until the United Nations took new action (Reuters).

Brazil’s leading opposition candidate, Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra, has failed to convince a popular governor from his own party to be his vice-presidential running mate in October’s election. Aecio Neves, a young and charismatic governor from the central state Minas Gerais, said he did not plan on running with Serra (Reuters).

Serra praised the Brazilian government for the economic stimulus measures it took during the global financial crisis (Reuters).

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who twice defeated President Lula in the 1990s, said that while Lula is “unbeatable” today, his popularity won’t be enough to elect his chosen heir (Bloomberg).

The ongoing corruption scandal that has dogged the Conservative Democrat Party (DEM) has claimed another victim, with the resignation of acting governor of Brasilia Paulo Octavio (Rio Times).

ECONOMY

Brazil’s industrial output surged in January from a year ago, but not as quickly as it did in December, easing concerns Latin America’s largest economy may be overheating (Reuters).

Brazil, a country long associated with youthful beauty, is entering a period of rapid aging that will change its face. The number of Brazilians over 60 will jump by more than half over the next 15 years to around 32 million. By 2050, government forecasts show the number will have tripled even as Brazil’s overall population contracts after hitting a peak of around 210 million in 2030, from 190 million now (Reuters).

Chief of the IMF Dominique Strauss Khan has handed down a warning to Brazil, among others nations, that there is a very real risk of an ‘asset bubble’ developing in the emerging economies of the world (Rio Times).

BUSINESS

Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest producer of animal protein, posted a net quarterly profit of 127.9 million reais ($71 million), reversing losses of 53.4 million reais in the fourth quarter of 2008 (Reuters).

France’s Lafarge, the world’s largest cement producer, agreed to swap a stake in Portuguese rival Cimpor for plants in Brazil, a move that will help it become the third-largest producer of the material in the South American nation (Reuters).

Grupo Pao de Acucar, Brazil’s largest diversified retail group, should see same-store sales rising close to 15 percent this year, indicating strong customer demand for foods and home appliances, newly-appointed Chief Executive Eneas Pestana said (Reuters).

Brazilian miner Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, is planning to nearly double iron prices for domestic steelmakers by April (Reuters).

OSX, the Brazilian shipbuilder owned by billionaire Eike Batista, plans to raise up to 9.92 billion reais ($5.6 billion) in what could become the nation’s largest initial public offering this year. Shipbuilding is expected to thrive in Brazil (Reuters).

Portugal Telecom’s biggest individual investor said Brazil is “a must” for future growth and that the phone company should try to buy Telefonica’s stake in Vivo (Bloomberg).

East Japan Railway, the nation’s largest rail operator, may join a Japanese government-backed group bidding to build and operate an $18 billion high-speed rail line in Brazil (Bloomberg).

Buyout firms are poised to spend $9 billion in Brazil on everything from infrastructure to oil exploration as the economy recovers from a recession (Bloomberg).

BANKING

Santander Brasil, Brazil’s third-largest nongovernment bank, forecasts loans could grow as much as 22 percent this year as small and mid-sized businesses and individuals take on more credit, Chief Financial Officer Carlos Lopez Galan said (Reuters).

BIOFUELS

Brazilian state run oil company Petrobras is seeking a stake of up to 40 percent in ethanol maker ETH Bioenergia to slow the growing influence of foreigners in the country’s ethanol sector, local newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported (Reuters).

OIL

OGX, the oil company controlled by billionaire Eike Batista, said it made a third discovery at an offshore Campos basin block in Brazil (Bloomberg).

Petrobras received approval to buy 30 percent of an offshore block from Repsol YPF and Statoil ASA, the South American country’s oil regulator said (Bloomberg).

ENERGY

Brazil’s Energy Ministry said the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project will require investments of as much as 20 billion reais, more than previously estimated (Bloomberg).