Magazine Luiza buys bookseller Estante Virtual for R$31m

Retailer Magazine Luiza successfully bid R$31 million for online bookseller Estante Virtual, below the R$44 million valuation issued by its owner, bankrupt book chain Livraria Cultura, which auctioned the site off to pay debts. All of Estante’s book inventory will be consolidated into the growing marketplace operation of Magazine, a source says.

Valor has learned that Estante had annual sales R$90 million (including revenues of booksellers who operate storefronts on the site) in 2019, the same as the previous year. It holds 18 million book listings, including used titles, earning a commission of at least 20% per transaction.

Source: Valor Econômico

Embratur opening more foreign offices after budget boost

Brazil’s tourism promotion agency, Embratur, will open five more offices abroad in the next few months following a budget increase to $120 million from $8 million. Embratur president Gilson Machado Neto, a close ally of Jair Bolsonaro, says he is working closely with the president’s son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, to encourage more cruise ships to make stops in Brazil, launch more advertising campaigns and tweak tourism-related legislation. The first two new offices will be located in Miami and Buenos Aires – drawing South American and US tourists is the priority, Mr. Machado Neto says.

Source: Valor Econômico

Administrative reform is easier to approve, Guedes says

The government will send in up to two weeks to Congress the administrative reform bill proposing changes to the civil service, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said on Thursday. In his view, the administrative reform is easier to pass precisely because it was “downsized” to preserve the rights of current employees. “It has practically no opponents, it is very simple to approve.”

Mr. Guedes says President Jair Bolsonaro himself argued that the reform should only affect future employees. Regarding other priorities such as the tax reform, Mr. Guedes said that the government would “send everything” to Congress but stressed that it would be up to lawmakers to choose what to analyze first.

Source: Valor Econômico

State-owned companies’ capitalization drives primary deficit in 2019

State-owned companies’ capitalization at the end of last year caused the primary deficit of the central government (Treasury, Social Security and Central Bank) to end the last year at R$95 billion, above the most recent projections of the economic team.

National Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida expected a deficit of R$80 billion to R$85 billion, but said he was surprised by the transfer of R$9.6 billion to state-owned companies in December alone

Source: Valor Econômico

OAS calls for employees to join agreement with CGU

OAS, the last of the major construction groups involved in Operation Car Wash to sign a leniency agreement with the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), has called on dozens of employees and former employees to join the agreement.

They will detail the situations in which they committed illicit acts and, in exchange, gain immunity against potential requests for compensation from the government. The model is similar to that of Odebrecht’s leniency agreement signed in December 2016. Unlike OAS, most of the major groups have signed leniency agreements both with CGU and the Federal Prosecution Service (MPF). OAS has pledged to return R$1.93 billion to the government.

Source: Valor Econômico

Government pushes bulk of privatizations to 2021

The government will concentrate its privatizations in 2021, according to a new timetable introduced on Tuesday by Privatization Special Secretary Salim Mattar.

The development lender is only planning three sales this year: the Brazilian Agency of Guarantor and Guarantee Funds (ABGF) in August, followed by Emgea (created to handle toxic assets) in October and the Brazilian Mint in December.

The postal service would be privatized in December 2021, according to the timetable. Mr. Mattar spent a good share of his presentation deflecting criticism of the slow pace of privatizations, admitting little was done last year out of fear it would negatively affect the pension reform.

Source: Valor Econômico

Tyson Foods partner Vibra to expand chicken production

Strengthened by a partnership with Tyson Foods, the largest meatpacker in the US, Brazilian poultry producer Vibra intends to expand output by 70% by 2024. Based in Montenegro, Rio Grande do Sul, the owner of brands Nat and Avia will increase the capacity of its three slaughterhouses and is also in search of acquisitions. Tyson bought 40% of Vibra’s capital for an undisclosed amount and the Brazilian company’s main executives said the proceeds are earmarked to the expansion. If the projected expansion materializes, Vibra will increase its chicken meat outply to 340,000 tonnes from 200,000 expected for 2020. “The joint venture capital will be used for organic growth. In addition, part of this production will be sold to Tyson,” said Gerson Muller, CEO of Vibra. The group intends to increase net revenue in 2020 to R$1.6 billion from R$1.42 billion last year.


UK wants agreement with Mercosur, Guedes says

The UK is interested in starting negotiations for a free trade agreement with Mercosur soon after exiting the European Union, according to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, who met Wednesday in Davos with British counterpart Sajid Javid. “We want it and they want it,” Mr. Guedes said when talking about his day at the World Economic Forum. The South American bloc agreed to a trade deal with the Europe Union last year that still has to be confirmed by lawmakers. The UK will be left out of the mutual reduction of import tariffs framework after the Brexit and will have to negotiate new agreements from scratch. “He [Mr. Javid] told me he has urgency with Brazil. The British want to dive into a new pool,” Mr. Guedes said. According to the minister, Brazil is determined to carry out a process of trade opening. “We assume that Argentina will follow us. If they doesn’t…,” he joked, without finishing the sentence.


Brazil “exporting” female executives to the US

The desire for new career challenges, coupled with the possibility of having international experiences with colleagues from a variety of countries and learning new ways of working or even the possibility of offering better life prospects to their children motivated five Brazilian executives to leave the country for the US in the last 12 months. They range in age from 32 and 46 and were transferred to the US-based parents of their companies. Their experience is not an isolated event: consultancy Hayman-Woodward has found an 80% increase in the number of female executives, among its clients, who are seeking US work or residency visas.


UPS interested in Postal Service privatization

The privatization of Brazil’s Postal Service, known as Correios, is drawing interest from multinational shipping and supply-management company UPS. Brazilian government sources said CEO Nando Cesarone expressed interest to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. Mr. Guedes and other officials touted their concession and privatization plans to international investors gathered in Davos. Mr. Guedes later said Correios could be sold “no later” than 2021. The minister also met the CEOs of Apple and Uber on Wednesday.