NEWSLETTER – August 2022

08/01/2022

FEW CELL PHONES IN BRAZIL SUPPORT STANDALONE 5G

Telecoms regulator Anatel says technology will require certain amount of time

Less than 5% of cell phones in operation in Brazil are ready to receive the standalone 5G signal, which was launched Friday in Porto Alegre, João Pessoa and Belo Horizonte. The warning has been repeated by Moisés Moreira, the director of the Brazilian Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (Anatel), in an attempt to lower expectations at this first moment.

In Mr. Moreira’s view, phone companies must make it clear to their clients if the devices in use are prepared for standalone 5G, the most sophisticated version of the new technology, and if it will be necessary to change the chip. “Don’t expect 5G technology to arrive in a big way right now. On the contrary, it demands a certain amount of time,” he told Valor.

Brasília has had standalone 5G since July 6. The signal is offered over the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) band. Anatel has received reports of frustrated users who have had an experience not very different from that of 4G, in addition to encountering many “shadow” areas (without 5G signal).

“Operators are not changing the chip yet, nor are they marketing exclusive plans for 5G. So far, they only have the obligation to effectively turn on the signal by the end of September. So Anatel still can’t fine them for not meeting quality standards,” he said.

Days after the 5G debut in Brasília, Vinicius Caram, one of Anatel’s technicians involved in the implementation, told Valor that users would now only have a “tasting.” He said that the moment is for “fine tuning” or network “optimization.”

Mr. Moisés reinforced that, among the capital cities that are yet to receive standalone 5G, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Goiânia and Salvador are the ones with “more advanced” work to prevent interference. However, he stated that there is still no defined date.

Regarding the monitoring of the quality, Gustavo Borges, Anatel’s head of control of regulatory obligations, told Valor that, besides checking the number of antennas, the “coverage map” of telecom companies will be evaluated.

“The number of antennas is an objective commitment in the call for bids. By observing the map, we will know if in fact there is signal where availability is declared,” said Mr. Borges. He said that after September 29, the agency will start measuring technical parameters to verify network performance: speed, latency, jitter and packet loss. This involves comparison with international standards.

Mr. Borges said that, even without the commercial launch of 5G plans, Anatel already monitors consumer complaints. The collection of indicators will result in the production of the quality seal A, B, C, D or E for each provider, in each municipality, to be unveiled in 2023.

Most 5G handsets available on the market already offer access to networks that simulate 5G by dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). With the arrival of 5G networks in new capital cities, users will be able to automatically use the 5G NSA networks, without changing chips or plans, operators and manufacturers told Valor. This option uses the 3.5 GHz network with the pre-existing network structure already used by phone carriers, without the performance of the very low latency offered by 5G SA.

The pure 5G networks require the use of a specific chip and plan, according to information from América Móvil’s Claro, and compatible phones. Currently, this is the case for six Motorola and three Samsung models. The iPhones 12 and 13, launched in November 2020 and 2021, respectively, by Apple, are not prepared for standalone 5G networks in the country.

For the consumer, the difference in latency, or response time, between a device with 5G NSA and with 5G SA is not significant, says Thiago Masuchette, head of product at Motorola.

“You will have a latency difference of 10 milliseconds, on a 5G DSS or NSA, to 1 millisecond on 5G SA,” he explains. Tests done by the manufacturer indicate that the speed does not change between a standalone 5G and a 5G NSA, but the indicator will vary depending on the network quality of the carrier.

In practice, “the frequency and bandwidth that each carrier won in the bidding will interfere with the maximum speed that the consumer can have in the plan,” says Mr. Masuchette.

Today, 60% of Motorola’s portfolio is compatible with 5G networks, according to the executive. Among the six devices that are also compatible with SA networks, currently, the average price ranges from R$2,000 for the Moto G62 model, to R$5,000 for the Edge 30 model, top of the line of the brand.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/02/2022

MUBADALA MAKES OFFER FOR BURGER KING IN BRAZIL

Public offering of shares could reach R$938.6m

The Arab investment fund Mubadala Capital has made a proposal to buy the control of Burger King in Brazil, a company currently called Zamp, in a deal that could reach R$938.6 million. Through a voluntary public offering of shares, Mubadala wants to increase its stake in the chain to 50.1% from 4.95% by paying R$7.55 per share. The amount represents a premium of 21.6% over the closing price last Friday, and 31% over the average share price of the last 30 days.

As Valor previously reported, the fund had already been analyzing an offer for the company within the strategy of moving forward on assets with growth potential, but which have lost value on the stock exchange since the pandemic crisis. In 12 months, the stock had declined 49% until last Friday. In the offering, the proposal is for payment in cash on the settlement date, according to a letter from a Mubadala subsidiary sent to the chain, which offers details on the conditions.

On Monday, after the disclosure of the interest to the market, the stock closed the day up 18.81% at R$7.39, a price close to the level offered by investors. The chain’s board of directors – composed mostly of independent members – is expected to release within 15 days a preliminary opinion on the offer, but the initial signals from shareholders are negative.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/03/2022

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES PASSES NEW RULES FOR REMOTE WORK

Provisional measure allows companies to decide rules directly with workers; proposal will now be sent to Senate

The Chamber of Deputies passed Wednesday a provisional measure that allows companies to decide the rules of remote work directly with the worker, without the need for collective bargaining, and changes rules on the payment of food vouchers for employees. The proposal will be sent to the Senate.

The provisional measure was criticized by opposition parties. Deputy Afonso Florence (Workers’ Party, PT, of Bahia) says the measure brings important points, but the possibility of individual negotiation to establish a working-from-home regime opens the door to the “deepening of the logic of labor exploitation.” “It is a fact that hybrid and remote work is here to stay and is one consequence of the pandemic, but workers’ rights cannot be undermined,” he said.

The rapporteur of the provisional measure, Deputy Paulo Pereira da Silva (Solidarity of São Paulo), one of the leaders of the union organization Força Sindical, said he agreed that the negotiation should be collective and bring rules for hybrid work, not remote work. Yet, he cut a deal with the government to keep the rules proposed by the Executive branch. “There is some nonsense [rules] here. We are passing a law that, in a few days, we will have to correct because I think we are making a mistake,” he said.

On the other hand, the deputy government leader Ubiratan Sanderson (Liberal Party, PL, of Rio Grande do Sul) advocate the rule because, in his view, it prioritizes the individual opinion of workers over the position of unions that “many times do not represent the specific will of each worker.” “There is not the slightest possibility of damage to the worker. And if there is, this can be reversed in court. In fact, we are giving more attention individually, which is what people want, than talking to the union. And the opposition doesn’t want this, because they always want to put the union to speak on behalf of people who, many times, don’t even know what is being discussed.”

The lower house also rejected, by a 325-63 vote, the payment of food vouchers in cash. The New Party (Novo), the author of the amendment, argued that this would give autonomy to employees to decide where and how to spend the money. “Some parties have workers voting against workers,” said the party’s leader in the Chamber, Deputy Tiago Mitraud (Minas Gerais).

The proposal was rejected by the governing coalition and caused divergence in the opposition. According to the Brazilian Socialist Party’s (PSB) leader, Deputy Bira do Pindaré (MA), workers prefer to receive in cash rather than in a card. “The problem with receiving in cash is that all the labor charges can be levied on top of it. We need to make an adjustment so that this doesn’t happen,” he said.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/04/2022

FERTILIZER IMPORTS GAIN STEAM IN NORTHERN PORTS

Terminals in Brazil’s North region account for a quarter of inputs from abroad

As grain crops grow in the Matopiba region (bordering the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia) and in northern Mato Grosso, the Arco Norte (North Arch) ports become increasingly attractive to logistics service providers. In the wake of the growth of soybean shipments, fertilizer imports are increasingly gaining space in the ports of the North and Northeast regions.

The main ports of the Arco Norte – Santarém and Belém (Pará), Itaqui (in São Luís, Maranhão), and Salvador (Bahia) – handled 4.4 million tonnes of fertilizers between January and June. They accounted for 25% of the total volume imported by the country, and the volume handled grew 39% year-over-year.

“The increase is directly related to the expansion of soybeans in Matopiba and northern Mato Grosso,” said Luigi Bezzon, a fertilizer and vegetable oil analyst at U.S.-based consultancy StoneX and author of the survey based on federal government data.

The larger grain cultivation in these regions has driven structural changes in roads and ports. According to Mr. Bezzon, the increase in the supply of trucks, for example, improves freight prices because farmers can send grains to the port and bring fertilizers to the interior on the return trip.

From January to June, soybean shipments through Arco Norte grew 8%, while in the South-Central region there was a 16% decrease compared to 2021, according to StoneX. The largest increases in volume handled were seen in Itaqui and Salvador.

In the first half, the arrival of fertilizers through Itaqui grew 51%, to 1.62 million tonnes, the survey shows, and the soybean shipments grew 19%, to 7.1 million tonnes. “Ports connected to railroads, such as Itaqui, make perfect sense [for expanding logistical alternatives],” says Marcos Pepe Bertoni, chief operating officer at Corredor, Logística e Infraestrutura (CLI).

CLI, which is controlled by asset management company IG4 Capital and has just acquired two terminals in Santos from Rumo (also connected to railroads), is one of four companies that make up Consórcio Tegram, charged with operating grains in the Maranhão port. Mr. Bertoni said the company is looking with interest at providing services in the fertilizer market.

According to him, grain exports in Itaqui are advancing rapidly, so “it will inevitably” be necessary to think about return cargo to improve costs for the client. “It is necessary to ‘tie up’ the logistics to improve effectiveness,” he adds. CLI expects to handle 4 million tonnes of grain in 2022.

The biggest local player for fertilizer imports is the Companhia Portuária Operadora do Itaqui (Copi), owned by the Fertipar and Rocha groups. Copi is charged with handling 80% of the volume of fertilizers received in Itaqui, and wants to expand its services. In 2021, Itaqui handled 3.2 million tonnes of the input.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/05/2022

LEGAL BATTLE MAY CREATE MULTI-BILLION HOLE IN POWER INDUSTRY

CTG Brasil, controlled by Chinese company, questions change in firm energy of its plants; R$500m have already been charged from consumer

A legal imbroglio in the power industry may open precedents for a multi-million hole in the consumers’ electricity bills. The hydroelectric plants of CTG Brasil, controlled by China Three Gorges, caused an impact of R$496.1 million in the electric sector due to an injunction that prevents the review of the firm energy of the Capivara (643 MW), Chavantes (414 MW), Taquaruçu (525 MW) and Rosana (354 MW) plants, sources say.

In technical jargon, firm energy is the volume of power that an project can deliver to the system and determines the form of remuneration of the companies. In May 2017, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) published Ordinance No. 178/2017, which defined the new firm energy values for power from centrally dispatched hydroelectric plants, valid from January 2018.

It is the up to the ministry to define every five years the maximum energy that can be sold by the power plants, since new concessions for multiple uses of water have changed the flow of rivers. The measure reduced by 4.9% the firm energy of CTG’s hydroelectric plants in relation to the one in effect in December 2017.

Before that, when CTG bought Rio Paranapanema Energia, it modernized the plants and requested an extraordinary revision of the firm energy to the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (Aneel). In the lawsuit filed against the federal government, CTG says that there are illegalities in the ordinance, since the reduction of the firm energy was made before the five-year period since the last revision.

The Capivara, Rosana and Taquaruçu plants were the subject of extraordinary reviews in May 2015, and the Chavantes plant, in June 2013, and, according to CTG, the value of firm energy could only be reviewed again in May 2020 and June 2018, respectively.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy says that this argument does not apply to extraordinary reviews. In addition, CTG presented a contribution in the public consultation without questioning the revision process.

The Chinese company also says that the reduction of firm energy in more than 4.8% causes distortions, since the plants have a history of generating 22.1% more. However, as recommended by the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), the federal government reviewed the firm energy of the plants involved because it considered them overestimated, and also to standardize the criteria for firm energy calculations for all players.

Another argument of the company is that the action represents an act of confiscation, because it restricts the right to economically exploit its concession. Power generation companies heard by Valor, which are in the Energy Relocation Mechanism (MRE), a risk-sharing system to avoid shortages during periods of drought, have another understanding.

The plants have an interconnected operation and when a company wins a concession, it must submit to the rules of the sector and the operation is commanded by the national grid operator ONS. This happened, for example, in the water crisis, when the ONS needed to save water in the Paranapanema basin and requested that some hydroelectric plants reduce their generation.

Of the R$496.1 million, nearly 60% was paid by the energy consumer and the rest was borne by the MRE companies. The situation raises the concern that other companies will go to court to avoid a reduction in the firm energy of their plants.

“Distribution companies are bothered because they foot the bill and fear default, power generation companies bear part of the burden, and the average consumer has not yet realized that they are paying most of this cost,” says a source who asked not to be named.

CTG Brasil said that the judgment of the appeal filed by the company in the review process of the firm energy of its plants is still in progress. “An eventual favorable outcome to the company will not bring impacts to the energy market, since the company’s request is aimed at preserving the firm energy amounts of its plants, which were reduced in disagreement with the legislation,” it declared in a statement.

Marcos Meira, a lawyer and president of the Special Infrastructure Commission of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), disagrees. For him, a decision that is eventually favorable to a generation company causes an imbalance in cascade, generating several other lawsuits of competing ventures. In other words, decisions handed down in these cases have the potential to impact the entire system, because it operates like a communicating vessel.

“A favorable decision obtained by CTG will arouse the interest of other companies, which will also seek to reverse the proposal to reduce the firm energy of their plants in the courts. The arguments are almost always the same … ranging from the economic-financial imbalance of the contract, to exogenous political interference,” explains Mr. Meira.

Much larger power plants, like Jirau, Santo Antônio, and Teles Pires, have had extraordinary reviews recently and in theory could use the same thesis as CTG.

To Valor, the leader of an association, on condition of anonymity, points out the lack of a more incisive action of the Ministry of Mines through the Federal Attorney General’s Office (AGU) in solving the case. The matter was under the care of the then-executive secretary Marisete Dadald, but with her departure, the ministry has not given the case the proper attention.

“At the hearing of the case, the oral argument was made only by the CTG’s lawyer. The government, which was the one who created the rules and should watch over this, didn’t show up. An incomprehensible disregard.”

Without giving any details, the ministry only informed that it is working on the suit so that the injunction is denied.

In the event of an unfavorable decision to CTG, the doubt remains as to how this amount will be reimbursed to consumers, since, according to the Electric Energy Trading Chamber (CCEE), any recalculation of the amounts cited will depend on the terms defined by an eventual court decision.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/09/2022

RUMO, ANDALI START OPERATIONS IN FERTILIZER TERMINAL IN GOIÁS

Project will enable transportation of fertilizers from Port of Santos to this central state

Rumo and Andali, a joint venture between U.S.-based agribusiness cooperative CHS and BRFértil, will officially start operations in a fertilizer terminal on the North-South Railway in Rio Verde, Goiás, on Tuesday. The project will enable the transportation of fertilizers from the Port of Santos, in São Paulo, to Goiás.

The state’s agribusiness is mostly served by trucks now. The railroad is expected to allow moving 60% to 70% of the volumes used in the region.

Freight transportation in this railroad, which Andali had already started in a preliminary way in April, is expected to reach 500,000 tonnes later this year and 800,000 tonnes in 2023, Andali CEO Rafael Vaccari Gonçalves said. The company expects to reach 1.5 million tonnes per year by 2025. “This solution comes to reduce costs and provide more efficiency,” he said.

Besides the terminal, a fertilizer mixing plant was built on the site with a capacity expected to reach 750,000 tonnes next year. The company is investing R$160 million in the project.

Andali already had a terminal in Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso. With the new structure, the executive said, the company’s capacity is expected to more than double and reach 6% of the country’s total volume.

This is also Rumo’s fourth terminal in the so-called Malha Central (Central Network), the concession that operates the central stretch of the North-South Railway. The project consolidates the logistics complex the operator is building in Rio Verde. The company had already built a grain terminal there. Besides this, the company plans to conclude by mid-2023 a new fuel terminal in the city, which is being built in partnership with Dinâmica Terminais de Combustíveis (DTC).

By next year, a new container terminal is likely to start operating in Anápolis, Goiás – a partnership between Porto Seco de Anápolis and Brado, Rumo’s arm for railway container transportation.

Rumo already has plans for new terminals in Malha Central to handle grains and soy meal in the north of Goiás and the south of Tocantins, said Pedro Palma, the company’s chief commercial officer. However, there is still no timetable defined for this next stage of the project.

The construction of the central stretch of the North-South Railway is virtually concluded, the executive said. There is still a short stretch between Palmeiras de Goiás and Ouro Verde de Goiás, which is expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

“We are going according to plan on Malha Central. Rumo is close to reaching a 30% share in the grain market in Goiás,” he said.

In relation to Malha Norte, Mr. Palma said the company is making adjustments for the beginning of construction. Rumo has already started commercial prospecting for the railroad, whose terminals are also likely to follow the model of Malha Central – they will be independent facilities built in partnership with customers.

However, he said these agreements will be signed later. “The advantage, in this case, is that we already operate in Mato Grosso, where we already have good relationships,” he said.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/10/2022

AIRCRAFT SELLER TAM AVIAÇÃO EXECUTIVA TAKES OFF AGAIN

After a series of setbacks, company sold a record 72 aircraft in 2021, boosted by agribusiness

Aircraft seller TAM Aviação Executiva was still recovering from the economic crisis aggravated by anti-corruption task force Car Wash when air travel practically ceased because of Covid-19. At the country’s largest jet marketer, the controlling shareholders needed to bail out the company with a capital injection of R$36 million.

When the pandemic broke out, few might have bet that the upturn would be quick, but TAM Aviação Executiva has never sold so many jets. Last year, the Amaro family’s company sold 72 aircraft, a record. In Brazil, it is the exclusive representative of the manufacturers Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell.

The horizon has opened up so quickly thanks to a combination of a change in behavior – many customers have avoided commercial aviation to reduce the risks of getting the coronavirus – and the commodities boom, which has multiplied demand for aircraft from agribusiness customers. The strong demand for executive jets also benefits Embraer.

Currently, farmers represent 40% of TAM Aviação Executiva’s aircraft sales, Mauricio Amaro told Pipeline, Valor’s business website. Customers from the countryside buy mainly the King Air (Beechcraft) and Caravan (Cessna) models, which are able to land on different types of runways.

With record sales, TAM Aviação Executiva increased its net revenue by almost 48% last year, reaching R$165.6 Milione. The group does not disclose its projections for 2022, but it has already delivered 62 aircraft and closed the sale of 40 units for delivery next year. The order book for 2024 has also started to be assembled.

The good moment also translates into margins, says Mr. Amaro, son of Commander Rolim (1942-2001), founder of TAM, now Latam. TAM Aviação Executiva’s Ebitda margin hit negative 13% in the turbulent years following Car Wash.

“I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel,” recalls the businessman. Now, the margin indicator is at 17% positive, a remarkable recovery.

Besides the demand for aircraft, which is expected to continue for the next two years, TAM AE is strengthening its services area, with investments of R$10 million. To seize the opportunities generated by agribusiness, the company will open a maintenance center in Goiânia. The hub joins the maintenance megacenter in Jundiaí (São Paulo state), where the company has more than 7,000 items in stock.

“Our largest business is maintenance, but the sale of aircraft is the most profitable one,” says Mr. Amaro.

In the service area, TAM Aviação Executiva also bets on retail parts sales, a segment in which it had little activity but that helps to increase margins at a time when commissions paid by aircraft manufacturers continue to fall.

In the hangar located at Congonhas airport in the city of São Paulo, TAM Aviação Executiva also charters jets, but using seven customer aircraft, which reduces the fixed capital employed in this type of operation.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/12/2022

CBA DEVELOPS ALLOY TO COAT ELECTRIC VEHICLE BATTERIES

Benefiting from higher metal prices, company reported operational record in 2Q

Benefiting from higher prices, Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio (CBA) exceeded analysts’ expectations and reported a record operating result in the second quarter, despite the lower sales volume. One of the major producers of primary aluminum in the country, the company continues to expand capacity and is working on the development of a new alloy, to be used in the coating of electric vehicle batteries.

“Aluminum is in every application in the low-carbon world. It is one of the three metals that are most present in the applications of a greener, more sustainable world,” CBA CEO Ricardo Carvalho said. The name of the client for whom the alloy is being developed and the project schedule were not revealed. But the executive indicated that the challenge is to reach an aluminum sheet with mechanical characteristics suitable for use as a casing for lithium-ion batteries, for electric buses in this case.

For analysts, the convergence of the aluminum business with the low carbon economy is one of the company’s trump cards in the long term. BTG Pactual says that the recent hike in the metal prices will continue to pressure CBA in the stock market, but in the long term, the company still benefits from the energy transition, which will stimulate aluminum consumption.

From April to June, the company reported EBITDA of R$641 million, the highest ever and 73% stronger than a year earlier, and a net income of R$ 511 million, the second-highest ever.

The unprecedented result was sustained mainly by the increase in prices and premiums practiced by the company, which offset by far the advance in costs in the period. “Despite the volatility of aluminum, prices were 20% higher in the year-over-year comparison,” said Mr. Carvalho.

In a report, analysts with Itaú BBA pointed out that EBITDA was 12% above the bank’s estimate and the market consensus, in the wake of the better performance in the cost line and the stronger EBITDA in the energy unit.

As prices advanced to an average of $2,875 per tonne on the LME and premiums were higher in face of higher logistics costs and a tighter market, CBA’s net revenue grew 22% in the quarter, to R$2.33 billion.

According to Mr. Carvalho, the primary aluminum import quota in 2023, established by the government after calculations by the Brazilian industry, is expected to undergo a significant reduction with the resumption of production at Alumar and the increase in the company’s capacity.

“The quota reduction will certainly take place. The number is still to be determined in a work coordinated by Abal [which represents the industry], but the prospect is that there will be a relevant cut,” he said.

Brazil imports about 300,000 tonnes per year of primary aluminum and the resumption of production at Alumar alone practically covers this volume, Mr. Carvalho said, indicating that the quota could even be eliminated next year.

In this scenario, supply and demand are expected to balance in the domestic market. “There may be a need for small imports or exports, but the market will be more balanced,” he added.

According to CBA’s chief financial officer, Luciano Alves, the demand for aluminum in the Brazilian market continues to be affected by the reduction in purchases by the self-build and consumer goods industries, which last year benefited the most from the emergency aid paid by the government. “Home construction activity and consumer goods are still below expectations and, in our view, there will be no significant change,” he said.

As CBA’s production resumption was carried out earlier than expected in all the furnaces of line 3, which may reach full capacity at the beginning of 2023, the aluminum production will reach 380,000 tonnes per year, 30,000 tonnes more than the current volume.

More 50,000 tonnes of primary aluminum will be added in 2025, with the recently approved restart of the furnaces of line 1. This way, the company will reach an annual production capacity of 430,000 tonnes of aluminum, in addition to the more than 120,000 tonnes of recycled material used to obtain final products.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/15/2022

NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES BECOME ESCAPE VALVE FOR EXPORTS

Country’s balance with South America grows amid decline of total balance of trade

After recovering in 2021 the pre-pandemic level, Brazilian exports to South American countries have advanced this year at a faster pace than the total average and also in relation to imports, in contrast to what happens in the country’s trade balance. As a consequence, the trade surplus in exchanges with neighboring countries reached $7.97 billion from January to July this year, more than double the $3.68 billion seen in the same period in 2021. The country’s total balance of trade fell 10% over the same period.

As a result, the surplus with South American countries from January to July this year equals to 20% of the total, compared with 8.3% in the same months last year, according to data from the Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex/ME). The sales of Brazilian products to the region totaled $24.85 billion this year and grew by 39.4%. The country’s total shipments increased by 20.1%. The difference was also clear in how fast imports increased – trade with neighbors is up 19.4%, while total foreign purchases climbed 31.6% between January and July.

Brazilian exports to South America fell in 2020 with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. That year, from January to July, the country exported to neighboring countries $12.02 billion, down 27.2% from $16.5 billion in 2019. In 2021, with the economic recovery in the region, exports totaled $17.82 billion between January and July. The performance of shipments contributed to a surplus slightly above the $7.92 billion of the same period of 2018, which used to be the peak since 1997 (considering the period of the first seven months of the year).

José Augusto de Castro, head of the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB), said that the recovery of foreign sales to the South American market is key because the region is typically a consumer of Brazilian manufactured goods, although oil exports to countries like Chile have also driven shipments and the trade surplus in regional trade. A third of the $5.18 billion that Chile absorbed from January to July in Brazilian products was oil, followed by automobiles, which had a 7% share. As for Brazilian imports of South American products, says Mr. Castro, commodities or products with little processing predominate.

Secex data show that of the five main items shipped to neighbors from January to July four were manufactured, all linked to automotive or transportation. Oil led the list, with $9.4 billion, practically tied with the $9.03 billion in cars. The two items were followed by car parts and accessories, vehicles for transporting goods, and tractors. The five products accounted for 28% of Brazil’s exports to other South American countries.

Lia Valls, a researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Economics of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV/Ibre), says that the increase in the value of Brazilian exports has been accompanied by an increase in the quantities shipped. According to data collected in the Foreign Trade Indicator (Icomex), the volume exported to Argentina rose 14% from January to July this year compared with the same period last year. Imports dropped 0.7% in volume. Exports to other South American countries increased by 14.3% in volume, while the total imported fell 7.5%, Ms. Valls said.

The main explanation for the increase in exports, said Mr. Castro, with AEB, is that most countries in this region are exporters of commodities, items that saw strong price rises, which generates additional foreign exchange. This, he says, provided these countries with new opportunities to import Brazilian manufactured goods.

At a time of logistical hurdles in global trade, he points out, Brazil’s geographical proximity, the logistical cost adapted to the region, the availability of containers, and the viability of land transport are among the main reasons why trade in the region has been favored.

Mr. Castro says that this is not something homogeneous. According to Secex data, considering trade with all the other countries in the region, Brazil had a deficit with three countries from January to July. The negative balance is explained mainly by the supply of energy-related products. There was a deficit with Bolivia, from which Brazil imports gas, with Paraguay, which supplies electricity, and with Guyana, because of oil. The Guyanese practically appeared on the Brazilian import map this year. Brazil imported $313 million from them from January to July, almost all of it in oil.

Argentina also has a different and specific situation, said Welber Barral, a partner at BMJ Consultoria. Exports of $8.89 billion from January to July this year to Argentina represent a recovery, with an increase of 34% against the same period last year. With a still difficult external situation, however, says Mr. Barral, the country does not have enough available hard currency to allow a very unfavorable trade balance, which may again impact Brazil. Recently, Argentina’s central bank issued new measures that have already been felt by some sectors in which the exporters are smaller and more pulverized, says Mr. Barral.

Abicalçados, which gathers Brazilian manufacturers of the footwear sector, has already spoken about difficulties faced by companies in shipments to Argentina, but the effect of this has not yet appeared clearly in the figures of the two-way trade, the organization says.

The restrictions imposed by the Mercosur partner on Brazilian exports are not something new in the two-way trade, Mr. Barral said. They grew with the import licenses put in place while Cristina Kirchner was the president (2007-2015). And even before the pandemic, he says, Brazilian shipments to Argentina also fell due to the economic crisis in the neighboring country, which still faces high inflation this year.

For Mr. Castro, the more positive scenario of trade with neighbors is likely to provide a surplus with South Americans of $41 billion in 2022. Last year, the positive balance was $34.1 billion. The expected expansion with this group of countries compared with what AEB projects for the total Brazilian balance. After the record surplus of $61.22 billion last year, Mr. Castro estimates a surplus of $54.13 billion at the end of this year.

There is uncertainty, however, about the sustainability of trade performance with the neighborhood in the longer term, he points out. The data and scenarios show that Brazil can occupy more space in the markets of different South American countries. “That depends more on whether Brazil wants to increase its exports and less on whether companies in these countries want to expand their imports.” Despite the good results achieved, one cannot consider this neighboring market as captive, he recalled, because China, to mention the main example, is occupying spaces and displacing Brazil as the main supplier in some countries.

Ms. Valls points out that, in 2022, the positive performance of Brazilian exports to South American neighbors is due to the economic recovery in most countries. Future trade depends on this and other factors, such as the role of trade agreements with some partners and political alignment. The result of the elections in Brazil, she said, can also impact regional foreign policy. In the shorter term, says Ms. Valls, the concern is with the possible economic slowdown ahead.

According to the consensus projections of the August report of the FocusEconomics consulting firm, Colombia’s GDP is estimated to grow 5.8% in 2022 after expanding 10.7% last year. In 2023, a 2.6% increase is projected. Chile’s economy is expected to grow 2% this year after expanding 11.7% in 2021. Next year, it is seen as growing 0.2%.

Mr. Barral recalled that the disruption of international trade, under the impact of the pandemic and then the Russia-Ukraine war, brought common challenges to all Latin American countries, such as price pressure. In the medium term, however, the international context may favor trade with Argentina and the other South American countries. The region, he points out, is one of the few in the world where there is no arms race, which makes it a supplier considered reliable from a political point of view. The movement of reallocation of productive resources in the largest economies is an opportunity for the region in attracting industries, Mr. Barral said.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/16/2022

BRAZILIAN IMPORTS OF FERTILIZERS GREW BY 14.7% IN 2022

The main exporter was Russia, accounting for 24% of the total

Brazilian fertilizer imports grew 14.7% in the first seven months of the year and reached 21.8 million tonnes, a report by the consultancy Agro, of bank Itaú BBA, highlighted on Monday. Despite the war in Eastern Europe, Russia was the main source of purchases, with a 24% share in the total volume.

The product from Russia continues to arrive in the country “normally,” and in July alone the country sent 828,000 tonnes to Brazil, 10% more than in the same month in 2021. The purchases originated in Belarus, an important global exporter of potash, totaled 26,000 tonnes last month, 90% less than a year earlier (306,000 tonnes).

“As industries have been accelerating fertilizer imports since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, fertilizers have been arriving in Brazil in volume even above 2021, which mitigates concerns about product availability,” the bank’s analysts say.

With the recent drop in fertilizer prices, they note, Brazilian farmers may have postponed the purchases of the input, contributing to the increase in the volume stored in ports. Agro informed that there are reports of high stocks, which may concentrate the delivery period and reduce the monthly import volume until the end of the year.

Earlier this month, Anda, an industry association, said that fertilizer deliveries between January and May increased only 1.7% compared to the first five months of 2021, to 14.6 million tonnes. In May, 3.2 million tonnes were delivered, a decrease of almost 5% compared to the same month last year.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/17/2022

AS 5G COVERAGE SPREADS, CELLPHONE PRICES PLUMMET

According to GfK, customers are paying more than 30% less for a device than in January

The progress of the 5G coverage in Brazil — followed by the expansion of the supply of mid-range smartphones compatible with the technology — has driven retail sales, especially in recent weeks.

Between the first week of January and the beginning of this month, the average price of 5G cellphones fell 30.9%, according to data from market research company GfK. In the same period, the share of 5G models in total smartphone sales increased to 17.5% from 6.7% in volume. As these are products with a higher unit price, their share participation in the market’s sales in the first week of August was higher, at 33%.

The 5G networks were activated on Tuesday in Curitiba, Goiânia, and Salvador. Since July 6, when high-speed mobile internet debuted in Brasília, it has so far been present in certain neighborhoods of eight Brazilian capitals.

“We have noticed a 40% higher demand for 5G devices in cities that already have the signal, compared to the beginning of the year,” said Fabio Gabaldo, chief commercial and technology officer at Magazine Luiza.

The expansion of the mix of mid-range 5G models, in addition to the more expensive ones, contributed to a slight drop in the average price of the devices sold by the retailer, to R$2,800 from R$3,000 between July last year and the same month this year, Mr. Gabaldo said.

Fernando Baialuna, GfK’s chief retail officer, said the arrival of 5G networks is a stimulus for consumers to change 4G devices for more expensive mid-range models, in a mature smartphone market such as the Brazilian one — but it is a move “that still has a long way to go.”

In June, Brazil reported 259 million active mobile devices, being 207.7 million (80.2%) from individuals.

At retailer Fast Shop, the sales of 5G smartphones doubled in the second quarter compared with the same period last year and intensified with the arrival of 5G technology in São Paulo on the 4th of this month, while Mercado Libre reported having sold 10 times more 5G smartphones between January and July this year than in the whole of last year.

After the special offer of 5G devices for Father’s Day (second Sunday of August), Fast Shop informed that it would run two seasonal campaigns this month, including smartphones with 5G technology. In one campaign, which went live on Monday and runs until the 24th, the retailer highlighted the lines most wanted by consumers, giving discounts of 33.5% on Apple’s 128-gigabyte iPhone 12, and of 34.7% on Samsung’s Galaxy M23 5G for cash purchases with Brazil’s instant-payment system Pix. The next campaign will take place between August 25 and 31.

The greater interest for televisions in the fourth quarter of the year, because of FIFA World Cup, in November, can be another stimulus for smartphone sales promotions, said Mr. Baialuna, with Gfk.

“This year, the phenomenon of the second screen to watch the World Cup gains more strength since there are options of smartphones with better screen resolution and higher speed access to mobile networks,” said Mr. Baialuna. According to him, retailers begin to bring forward the supply of TV sets to September because of the World Cup and smartphones with discount are expected to follow this movement.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/17/2022

IBM SEES BRAZIL AS WORTH INVESTING IN

Global corporate spending on cloud services reached $55bn in the second quarter, according to data from Synergy Research Group

IBM, one of the largest technology companies in the world, is trying to increase its share of the cloud computing market and has Brazil, especially banks, as a niche worth investing in.

Lenders are long-time clients of the company both for the acquisition of mainframe computers, which are the large ones capable of processing a massive volume of information, and cloud computing, a model in which clients pay for using technology resources via the Internet.

For the banking segment, IBM advocates the adoption of a hybrid cloud by companies, which comprises the private cloud, service and on-demand processing allocated within the company’s technology infrastructure, and the public cloud, based on the structure of cloud service providers.

Banks of all sizes are migrating part or all of their technology infrastructure to cloud computing. Itaú Unibanco, for example, should migrate 45% to 50% of its infrastructure to the cloud by the end of the year – currently, 30% of its applications are in the cloud provided by AWS, sources say. AWS, the leader in the global cloud market, is controlled by Amazon.

The offer of hybrid cloud services is IBM’s strategy to gain ground against competitors. In the second quarter, the company known as Big Blue was in the fifth position in the ranking of cloud services and infrastructure in all segments, with a 4% share. AWS leads the pack with 34% of the market, followed by Microsoft (21%), Google (10%), and Alibaba (5%).

Global corporate spending on cloud services reached $55 billion in the second quarter, according to data from Synergy Research Group. “Despite turbulence in currency markets and a much strengthened U.S. dollar, that still represents 29% growth from last year,” the consultancy said.

Banks are also accelerating their cloud investments against a difficult macroeconomic backdrop compounded by the risk of recession in the United States, said Howard Boville, senior vice president and head of IBM Cloud Platform. “All global institutions will do whatever it takes to preserve their margins. And that will include looking more closely at the projects that are bringing value to them,” the executive, also a former chief technology officer at Bank of America, told Valor.

Mr. Boville, who came to Brazil to participate in a panel at the Febraban Tech event last week, sees the migration of applications from Brazilian banks to cloud computing services as more advanced compared to other countries. “A lot of the work being done with Brazilian regulators is paving the way around data privacy and cybersecurity,” he said.

Marcelo Braga, IBM’s CEO for Brazil, agrees with the accelerated migration to the cloud among Brazilian banks and notes that this is not happening across the infrastructure. Mobile banking and internet banking are the first segments banks are moving to the cloud, he said.

Among structural systems, mainframes, which IBM provides, are still dominant among large banks, Mr. Braga said. “This connection [between mainframe and cloud] is what makes products faster in terms of innovation and opens up new opportunities,” he said.

Mr. Boville, who also created a technology best practices council, currently with 120 participating banks worldwide, notes that the advance of “open banking” here and in other markets still worries the industry about the security of smaller lenders.

“If you’re sharing consumer data, it allows you to have open banking and therefore more competition in the market,” he said. “That could mean that small companies that want to enter the market could put consumer data or technology operations at risk to the standard expected of a large lender,” he said.

According to Mr. Boville, who specializes in offering cloud computing tied to regulatory issues, especially in the financial industry, IBM’s proposal is to eliminate this risk with a turnkey cloud offering. “Whether you’re a big bank or a fintech, you inherit the cybersecurity controls, technology operations controls, and all the laws, rules, and regulations that you need to comply with and that the biggest banks operate,” Mr. Boville said.

In the second quarter, IBM reported a net profit of $1.5 billion, up 81% year-over-year, while revenues were up 9% to $15.5 billion. The hybrid cloud services represented 38.1% of total revenue, equivalent to R$5.9 billion in the quarter, up 24% year-over-year. The infrastructure division, which includes mainframes, invoiced $4.2 billion in the period, up 19% year-over-year. Revenue with mainframes increased 69% in the period, according to the company.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/18/2022

PARTNERSHIP OF EQUIPAV, PERFIN GOES BEYOND MINAS GERAIS

Consortium, which won its second concession in Minas Gerais, plans to study new assets

Equipav, a group with interests in a range of sectors including infrastructure and mining, and asset management company Perfin plan to develop together a highway concession platform in Brazil. The partnership started with two concessions in Minas Gerais, but there are plans to study new assets.

The consortium formed by the two companies won on Wednesday the auction to build the Sul de Minas lot through a public-private partnership (PPP). Last week, the group had already won a road concession in the region known as Triângulo Mineiro. The idea is that, from now on, the partnership will be consolidated, said José Carlos Cassaniga, director at Equipav Rodovias.

“The idea is that Equipav and Perfin will now look at the road concession industry together, on this platform, with a qualified look, and with capital discipline. This is our purpose,” he said. “It is a partnership that complements each other.”, he said.

In the auction of the Sul de Minas Lot, the consortium beat the offer of its only competitor, Monte Rodovias, after an open outcry auction. It ended with a final ended with a proposal of R$378 million, or a discount of 14% over the maximum payment defined in the public notice.

The lot includes 454.3 kilometers of roads. The estimated investment is R$2.3 billion, and operating expenses are estimated at R$2.3 billion more over the 30-year contract period. The Triângulo Mineiro Lot, won last week in a non-competitive auction, includes 627 km of roads and foresees R$3.2 billion in construction work.

The two lots will allow some synergies in the administrative field and contract management, Mr. Cassaniga said. “It is the same regulation, the same government.”

The auctions mark the debut of Equipav and Perfin in the highway sector. Equipav is a shareholder of Aegea Saneamento and has worked in highways in the past. Perfin was already active in the infrastructure sector, but the areas of electricity and basic sanitation. The asset management company has more than R$23 billion under management, of which about R$6 billion are allocated to infrastructure funds.

The auction ends the sequence of three road auctions started last week by the Minas Gerais government. In addition to the two lots, the Belo Horizonte beltway was auctioned – and won by the Italian company INC.

By the end of this year, the Minas Gerais government plans to launch other concession projects, said Fernando Marcato, the state’s infrastructure, and mobility secretary.

One concession is that of the Belo Horizonte subway, to be held in partnership with the federal government. The secretary said he will be in Brasília on Thursday to meet Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) members Vital do Rêgo (rapporteur of the auction process) and Antônio Anastasia. “There is already a favorable opinion from TCU officials. If the court greenlights the project, and we expect it to do so, we can launch [the bidding] later this year, maybe in a month,” he said.

In the segment of highways, the government is working on three other projects. One of them, the BR-356, which will link Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto, will require a public contribution. The funds may be unlocked by the compensation agreement being negotiated between the state and mining company Vale linked to the damage caused by the Mariana dam collapse.

There are still four other lots being structured in partnership with the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). Investment values will be updated accordingly to the new input inflation scenario. The big challenge, according to the secretary, is in drawing investors.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/19/2022

SPAIN’S AENA TO RUN BRAZIL’S CROWN JEWEL AIRPORT CONGONHAS

Lot with airport in São Paulo and other 10 was auctioned for R$2.45bn; Aena was the only interested buyer

Brazil’s new round of airport auctions had little competition and was market by XP Asset’s debut in the industry. The main lot, which includes São Paulo’s Congonhas airport and 10 others in Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, and Pará, was won by the Spanish company Aena. Despite the lack of competitors, Aena placed a bid of R$2.45 billion, or 231.02% over the minimum price.

Besides this initial payment, variable payments are foreseen throughout the contract, equivalent to a percentage of the gross revenue, which will reach 16.15% as of the ninth year of the concession.

Capital expenditure of R$5.9 billion is foreseen in the lot, in a 30-year concession. According to the feasibility studies, the forecast for passenger traffic in the lot in 2023 is 24.7 million. The projection for 2052 is 37.5 million passengers.

Besides crown jewel airport Congonhas, the lot includes the airports of Campo Grande, Corumbá, and Ponta Porã, in Mato Grosso do Sul; Santarém, Marabá, Parauapebas, and Altamira, in Pará; Uberlândia, Uberaba, and Montes Claros, in Minas Gerais.

Aena joined the Brazilian market by winning an auction to operate six airports in the Northeast region in 2019 – with fierce competition at that time. Today, the company operates terminals in Recife (Pernambuco), Maceió (Alagoas), João Pessoa (Paraíba), Aracaju (Sergipe), Juazeiro do Norte (Ceará), and Campina Grande (Paraíba). The company plans to reach an investment figure of R$1.4 billion by the end of 2023 in these assets. Globally, the group operates 46 airports in Spain (including Barajas, in Madrid), one in the United Kingdom (London-Luton), 12 in Mexico, two in Colombia, and two in Jamaica.

The operator is controlled by the Spanish government, which holds a 51% stake. The remaining shares are traded on the stock exchange.

In the business aviation lot, the winner was the infrastructure fund XP Infra IV FIP, which took the airports of Campo de Marte, in São Paulo, and Jacarepaguá, in Rio de Janeiro. The group, which was the only interested buyer, placed a bid of R$141.4 million for fixed concession payment, the minimum amount foreseen in the call for bids.

The move meant the entry of XP Asset into the industry. The asset management company signed a partnership with the French company Egis, which had already participated – not very successfully – in the airport concessions market in Brazil. The company holds a 2.94% stake in Aeroportos Brasil Viracopos, which controls the airport of Campinas (São Paulo), together with companies Triunfo and UTC. Today, the contract is on its way to being returned amid a turbulent process. In January this year, the French group was joined by the fund Tikehau Capital, which holds now a 40% stake. The French state-owned company Caisse des Dépôts, which previously held control of the company, now holds 34%. The remaining 26% portion is held by executives and employees.

The only lot that attracted competition was the North one, which includes the airports of Belém (Pará) and Macapá (Amapá) and foresees investments of R$875 million in construction works. The Novo Norte consortium (Socicam and Dix Empreendimentos) won the bidding, after a long dispute through an open outcry auction. The company offered a fixed concession payment of R$125 million, or 119.78% more than the minimum value defined in the call for bids.

The company beat Vinci Airports, which offered R$115 million, or 102.19% more than the minimum value.

The 30-year contract foresees a capital expenditure of R$875 million. Besides the fixed concession payment offered in the auction, there will be variable fees starting in the fifth year of the concession. The percentage will reach 7.09% starting in the ninth year of the contract.

The airports included in the lot are expected to draw 4 million passengers in 2023. Passenger traffic is projected at 9 million in 2052, according to feasibility studies.

Socicam, which runs bus terminals, has started operating smaller airports in recent years and today controls 24 facilities in seven states. Pernambuco-based Dix Empreendimentos is already working in partnership with Socicam in the concession of 11 regional airports in São Paulo, won at an auction last year.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/22/2022

ICC PLANS TO DOUBLE REVENUE WITH LIVESTOCK BY USING LESS ANTIBIOTICS

Company specializes in yeast, a fungus that, if combined with other products, can strengthen the immunity of animals

Brazilian company ICC sees the reduction of antibiotics in the animal diet as a trend that will open more space for natural products, such as yeast – its core product. The company holds 60% of the Brazilian market for this additive used in animal feed. ICC hopes that this change will take revenues to R$1 billion in 2026, double the amount grossed last year.

The use of antibiotics in animal nutrition must be reduced to prevent pathogens from developing resistance to drugs, CEO Glycon Santos told Valor. But to replace growth promoters, it will be necessary to combine natural products, such as yeast, which is a fungus produced in the manufacture of sugarcane ethanol – like ICC’s product –, bread, and beer.

“The challenge is very big because of the densification of the animals. We need additives that do the same function as these antibiotics in other ways. Our company alone has already done 320 scientific studies, in search of a formula for a healthier intestine,” he said.

ICC invested R$15 million in a new yeast factory that started operating earlier this month in Jundiaí, São Paulo. The company has another unit in Macatuba, in the same state. “The interior of São Paulo is the best place to invest because it has the largest sugarcane production in the country and is relatively close to the port of Santos, which is where we export from,” he said.

The new plant, of 15,400 square meters considering the warehouse, can reach a production of 140 tonnes per day in three shifts. The unit is fully automated to meet the demand with quality and speed, and has its own laboratory for raw material and finished product analysis.

Mr. Santos acknowledged that the last two years were quite challenging for ICC. According to him, the value to export a tonne by the main routes increased to $14,000 per tonne from $2,000 before the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the strong rise in grain prices is negative for the sale of additives, since the product is not mandatory for feed formulation and the industry tends to reduce investments to cope with the high cost of production.

Brazil reached 100,000 tonnes produced last year, Mr. Santos said, but the potential, given the size of ethanol production, is much higher, at 900,000 tonnes. Today, the product is used mainly in cattle, swine, and poultry nutrition, but tends to grow more in swine and fish farming.

From the gestation of sows to the weaning of piglets, farmers need all the help possible to keep the animals alive and healthy. Fish farming, on the other hand, tends to grow exponentially because it is still a developing activity. “The effect of yeast to decrease mortality will be very important,” Mr. Santos said.

To reach the goal of R$1 billion in revenues, the company will also invest in the creation of a line of phytotherapeutic products with essential oils. The product is also useful to control diseases in animals.

Furthermore, the company will reinforce its exports, which today demand 60% of the yeasts produced by ICC. China has great potential as it holds 25% of the global feed market, but the idea is to grow in all geographies, Mr. Santos said. Currently, there are 70 buying countries.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/23/2022

AMAZON INVESTS HEAVILY TO GAIN MARKET SHARE IN BRAZIL

Company is far behind competitors but vows to grow

A global trade giant — second only to Walmart, the world’s largest retailer — Amazon has invested over the last two years in Brazil to expand its market share. Since 2020, the company has increased the number of distribution centers in Brazil to 12 from one, with sizes between 30,000 and 50,000 square meters. Logistics, according to specialists, is gaining more importance in retail, in view of a consumer who wants to receive products in a shorter and shorter time.

Even with the expansion, the number of Amazon units is still smaller than that of competitors, which have up to 30 centers, as is the case of Via (owner of Casas Bahia and Ponto chains). Americanas S.A. (Lojas Americanas and B2W Digital) has 25 distribution centers, while Magazine Luiza totals 24 and Mercado Libre has 10.

Many retailers also bet on the so-called “cross-docking” model — a smaller warehouse for redirecting deliveries within the chain itself, like a warehouse — or even in the use of brick-and-mortar stores as small distribution hubs, not only for their own products but also for third-party sellers, case of Magazine Luiza.

Unlike the world market, where it is the vice-leader, Amazon’s performance in Brazil is still far behind that of its rivals, according to market estimates. The Brazilian Society of Retail and Consumption (SBVC) ranking of the largest online marketplaces shows Amazon in sixth place, with R$3.832 billion in goods sold in 2021. The figure does not include third-party sales. If these other sales are considered, the estimated number rises to R$10 billion, according to consulting firm Varese Retail.

Still, those numbers are much lower than the first four in the ranking: Mercado Libre (R$68 billion), Americanas S.A. (R$42.2 billion), Magazine Luiza (R$39.7 billion) and Via (R$26.4 billion).

The leader of Amazon’s operations in Brazil, Ricardo Pagani, does not reveal investment or revenue figures but says that “important investments” have been made and that the company is just at the beginning of its operations in Brazil. Although it arrived in 2012, initially selling only digital books and Kindle e-readers, the expansion of the offer of products and categories was gradual. The hard-copy books began to be sold in 2014, then came the items in partnership with third parties (sellers) and only in 2019 Amazon began to acquire products for resale and sell devices such as Alexa. Currently, there is a variety of 50 million products available to customers, in 30 categories.

“As in other markets, Amazon is in Brazil with a long-term vision. We are building an operation in a sustained way. These are important investments made now, initially with a return of investment horizon of five to 10 years,” he said. Mr. Pagani downplayed the competition for leadership in Brazil and reinforced that it is possible to evaluate the position of each competitor in different categories. In the case of books sold through the online channel, for example, Amazon is the leader.

The investments in distribution centers, according to the executive, were planned before Covid-19 hit in Brazil but were accelerated during the pandemic.

Five of the 12 centers are in the city of Cajamar, about 40 kilometers from São Paulo, two in Cabo de Santo Agostinho (Pernambuco), one in Nova Santa Rita (Rio Grande do Sul), one in São João de Meriti (Rio de Janeiro), one in Santa Maria (Federal District), one in Betim (Minas Gerais) and the other in Itaitinga (Ceará). Each one is named after the nearest airport.

Amazon intends to continue investing in new distribution centers. The idea is also to expand the number of delivery stations, which today are five: (three in São Paulo, besides Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais). The units are responsible for the so-called “last mile,” which is the final step for the consumer, and operate in certain situations.

Logistics, says the founder and director of 360Varejo, Luiz Claudio Dias de Melo, is the next big thing, and requires high investments. A sign of Amazon’s concern with deliveries, according to him, is the recent purchase of 10% of Total Express, a logistics and distribution company.

But Amazon arrived later in this retail offensive to expand distribution centers in Brazil, notes Mr. Melo, who says the company faces “a minefield.” While it dominates the U.S. market, in Brazil it faces competitors that are bigger and ahead in terms of logistic structure: “This movement that Amazon is doing is late. The market is very busy and mined. The investments of the large operators have been happening for years”, he said.

The assessment of the late arrival is shared by the partner and founder of the consultancy Varese Retail, Alberto Serrentino, who points out an aggressive escalation of the retailer founded by Jeff Bezos. “Amazon started later, it is structuring itself, but it has been climbing very aggressively, with heavy investments, with many fulfillment centers,” says Mr. Serrentino. He refers to centers that not only receive and ship goods, but also provide other services to third parties that use its platform. The distribution centers that Amazon is setting up in the country “will provide the infrastructure and the muscle to improve the level of service and the ability to provide logistics services to sellers, which is their stronghold in the United States.”

One of the ways for the company to expand the customer base in Brazil, says Mr. Serrentino, is the Prime program, which provides free delivery for a range of products, regardless of value, and Prime Video, which is the streaming service.

Asked to comment on Amazon’s growth in Brazil, Mercado Libre, Americanas, Magazine Luiza and Via did not immediately reply, but gave indicators about the delivery times, one of the parameters in the competition for consumers.

According to the head of Logistics at Via, Fernando Gasparini, more than 15% of the company’s deliveries are currently made on the same day of purchase and more than 40% of the products arrive within 24 hours. As for Americanas S.A., 61.2% of deliveries are made within 24 hours, and 40% are made in just three hours, according to data from the second quarter of the year.

Magazine Luiza says 80% of the orders for its own products (that is, not considering the sellers) are delivered within 48 hours, and a “significant” portion within 24 hours.

Amazon itself does not disclose those figures but reveals that, through Amazon Prime, free shipping within one day is in 100 cities, and two-day shipping is in more than 1,000 cities.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/25/2022

BRAZIL’S GRAIN PRODUCTION EXPECTED TO BREAK NEW RECORD

Total production of 271.4 million tonnes is expected for 2022/2023

The Brazilian production of grains is expected to hit a new record in the 2022/23 crop, according to the first projections of the National Supply Company (Conab) for the season, released on Wednesday.

Driven by the increase in the area and good profitability of soybean, corn, and cotton crops, the harvest may grow 13.5% and reach 308 million tonnes, despite the increase in production costs — if, of course, the weather is favorable.

If the projection is confirmed, it will be the first time that the Brazilian grain harvest will exceed 300 million tonnes. More than 90% of the volume, or 294.3 million tonnes, will come from soy, corn, cotton, rice, and beans.

For the 2021/22 harvest, Conab estimates a total production of 271.4 million tonnes, with some crops still being closed, such as corn, wheat, and cotton.

According to the state-run company, soy production will reach 150.36 million tonnes in 2022/23, 21% more than in 2021/22, and a new record. Even with higher costs, the attractive prices of oilseeds in the international market are expected to stimulate a 3.5% increase in the area, to 42.4 million hectares.

The productivity of the 2022/23 cycle may also recover after the drought that affected the South region and part of Mato Grosso do Sul earlier this year.

With better crop yields and higher production volumes, Conab believes that soybean exports will grow 22.2% and reach 92 million tonnes in 2022/23, another record — Brazil leads the global production and exports of the grain.

With the advance of soybeans, the area planted with corn is also expected to grow in the second crop of the 2022/23 cycle and contribute to a total production estimated at 125.5 million tonnes, an increase of almost 10% over 2021/22.

For the second yearly crop, an 8.2% increase in harvested volume is expected, to 94.53 million tonnes. In the first harvest, the area is expected to fall 0.6%, estimates Conab, and production may reach 28.98 million tonnes.

In the case of cotton, the state company indicates a harvest of 2.92 million tonnes (7% more than in 2021/22), with increases in area and productivity. It is also expected a resumption of exports to a level close to 2 million tonnes.

The scenario is supported by good fiber prices defined in anticipated sales, which guarantee good profitability for the activity. But the uncertainties about the world economy, with the possibility of a recession in some countries and a decrease in demand, keep the segment on alert.

Rice and beans have similar scenarios projected by Conab, with a slight reduction in area and production adjusted to demand — and normality as far as domestic supply is concerned. The crops are impacted by the good profitability of “rivals” soy and corn.

The production of rice in the 2022/23 harvest is likely to be around 11.2 million tonnes, Conab said. The bean harvest tends to follow close to 3 million.

Conab also released its projections for the meat market, which will again face tight margins with the increase in costs driven by still firm corn prices.

Even so, Brazil may slaughter 30.1 million head of cattle in 2023, up 2.7% year-over-year. The increase is due to the movement made by cattle breeders to retain cows in recent years.

With a larger herd, beef production is likely to grow 2.9%, with the beginning of the process of culling cows in the livestock cycle. This way, exports tend to grow 5% next year. The per capita consumption in Brazil may see a slight increase and reach 26 kilos per inhabitant per year.

Poultry slaughter may increase by 3.2% in 2023, to 6.29 billion chickens. Foreign sales may fall 1.7% and stand at 4.5 million tonnes. The combination of these factors will result in a probable increase in domestic supply of 4.2%, raising per capita availability above 51 kilos per inhabitant per year, Conab projected.

The opening of new markets for Brazilian pork, such as Southeast Asian countries and Canada, is likely to mitigate the fall in exports to China, where the pig herd is recovering after a sanitary crisis.

The tendency for 2023, according to Conab, is an increase of 6.7% in slaughtering, but there will be no increase in the production of protein because of the lower average weight of the animals, due to the high costs of feeding the herds.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/26/2022

BAMAQ UNVEILS R$700M INVESTMENTS BY 2025

Group with interests in heavy construction equipment, luxury cars expects to reach R$2.2bn in revenues this year

Bamaq, a group with interests in heavy construction equipment, luxury cars, financing, and car insurance, plans to invest R$700 million by 2025 to expand current businesses and enter new services. The group ended 2021 with revenues of R$1.6 billion and expects to reach R$2.2 billion this year, up 37.5%. The expected profit for this year is R$108 million.

The largest investment will be made in a new business focused on leasing of heavy equipment (such as backhoe loaders and motor graders), trucks, and utility vehicles for construction. The group represents the brands Iveco, New Holland Construction, FPT Powertrain Technologies, and Continental in 14 states.

The group will also invest in opening a fintech, expanding a new tire sales business, opening new heavy equipment and luxury car dealerships, expanding a remote equipment management service, and expanding insurance services.

The CEO of the Bamaq Group, Clemente Faria Junior, said that by 2023 an investment of R$134 million will be made with own funds in the structuring of the heavy equipment and truck rental business. “From the second year of operation on, the intention is to finance half of the amount to be invested,” he said. The executive’s forecast is to make investments of R$160 million in 2024 and R$204 million in 2025, totaling R$498 million in three years. Mr. Faria added that most funds will be invested in the acquisition of a fleet for rental.

“Customers used to want to buy heavy equipment, but today there is growing demand for the use as a service model,” the executive said. He noted that the heavy machinery sales business now has 40,000 customers. For each heavy machine purchased, the same customer uses, on average, three trucks on the construction sites. And a portion of customers do not have funds available to acquire the entire fleet but are interested in the rental model.

Mr. Faria said that even the demand for the purchase of heavy equipment in Brazil is heated, mainly because of the demand from large agribusiness producers located in the region known as Matopiba — named after the four bordering states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí, and Bahia. “Agribusiness accounts for 30% of our sales,” the CEO said. Besides equipment sales, the group sells auto parts, tires, and lubricants. It also does equipment maintenance and remote fleet management.

The area of heavy machinery and trucks operates today with 14 business units and revenues of R$672 million in 2021. This year, Bamaq foresees the opening of Iveco and New Holland Construction units, two of them in Marabá (Pará), one in Sinop (Mato Grosso) and one in Luís Eduardo Magalhães (Bahia).

Another bet in the heavy machinery area is the sale of Koneq, a remote telemetry service that allows the remote management of equipment. The service controls engine temperature, the hydraulic system, fuel level, machines in operation, and the electric fence. Currently, there are 940 pieces of heavy equipment in the field in the country monitored by this system. The goal, according to Mr. Faria, is to reach 3,000 systems installed within 12 months. Bamaq invested R$5 million to develop the technology and will invest more R$5 million in 2023 in the service.

In the area of luxury cars, which accounts for 25% of the group’s revenue, there are plans to open a Porsche store in Salvador this year. Bamaq is also investing in the expansion of the consortium for luxury vehicles. The group has Mercedes-Benz and Porsche dealerships and represents both brands in Minas Gerais. “We have just been appointed to represent Porsche in Bahia. The store in Salvador, expected to be opened in the fourth quarter, will be the first in the state,” said Mr. Faria.

The CEO said that vehicle sales grew 22% in the 12 months through June. “Today we have 1,200 people waiting in line for a Porsche, 400 waiting for a Mercedes-Benz, and 550 waiting for the delivery of heavy equipment,” said Mr. Faria. According to the executive, industries face difficulties to meet the heated demand of consumers in the post-pandemic due to lack of parts.

In this scenario, the group sees as an alternative to help control customer anxiety a successful Brazilian institution, the so-called “consórcio”. It’s a kind of buyer’s club, a purchasing pool through which a group of people pays monthly installments on a certain item, such as a car or a house so that every month the group can afford to buy one. In 2021, said Mr. Faria, the “consórcio” business grew 180% compared to the quotas sold. The volume of commercialized credits grew 89% and the portfolio increased 82%, surpassing 20,000 active clients.

Another bet of Bamaq is in the financial industry. The group has filed a request with the Central Bank to open a fintech, which will offer financial products and services by digital means, including vehicle and heavy equipment financing, loans, credit cards, and acquisition of receivables. The fintech will be composed of a direct credit company (SCD) and a credit rights investment fund (FIDC). The portfolio is expected to reach R$100 million in the first year, R$500 million in the second year and R$1.7 billion in five years.

Bamaq was founded in 1974 by Clemente Faria, grandson of the banker who founded Banco da Lavoura, in 1925, also named Clemente Faria. In 1971, his sons Gilberto and Aloísio Faria split Banco da Lavoura into Banco Bandeirantes and Banco Real, which were later sold to Caixa Geral de Depósitos (today Itaú-Unibanco), and ABN (today Santander). In 1974, the banker’s grandson, Clemente Faria, founded Bamaq, which started as a Fiatallis dealership (today New Holland Construction). The group operates in 16 states in the Northeast, North, Central-West, and Minas Gerais, employs 770 people, and has just over 70,000 active customers.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/26/2022

CUSTOMERS CAN PAY FOR PURCHASES WITH A SMILE IN 6 STATES

Facial recognition system allows customers to pay in stores without using an electronic device or a card

When making a purchase, consumers want to avoid queues or time-consuming bureaucracy. To solve this, startup Payface brought to the market a new means of payment that simplifies operations in retail.

The solution uses facial biometrics technology and connects the entire ecosystem of payment methods, including credit cards, private label credit cards, wallets, acquirers and sub-acquirers. Users are not required to use any device or card. Payments are approved through face recognition – it takes a simple glance at the device installed at the cashier.

Payface’s first client was São Paulo-based supermarket St Marche, which saw broad acceptance since the innovation was put in place three months ago. “We are in 500 points of sale in six states,” said Eládio Isoppo, the fintech’s CEO and co-founder. The list of clients include supermarkets Zona Sul (Rio de Janeiro), D’ Ville (Uberlândia, Minas Gerais), Frade (Ilhabela, São Paulo), and Muffato (Paraná). The solution is also in use in Santa Catarina and Bahia.

Customers like it because operations are instantaneous and do not require point-of-sale terminals, cards, or intermediaries. “The consumer can go for a walk and stop at the supermarket to shop, without having to present any document, card, or cell phone,” Mr. Isoppo said. Payface’s next move is to expand to pharmacy chains and smaller stores. To do so, it is seeking partnerships with issuing and acquiring banks to reach small and medium retailers.

The security of the new payment method is in the technology behind the solution, Mr. Isoppo said. Payface holds a PCI Compliance certificate, which attests that the company follows the necessary security rules in processing card data. The consumer’s registration on the Payface platform gathers data such as the tax ID, payment method, and facial biometrics, and is integrated with the software installed in the retail chain. The insertion of the means of payment uses tokenization (the process of replacing real data with equivalent data, with the same format and protected by cryptography).

The development of technologies to reduce reliance on passwords and improve the experience by eliminating friction in data validation has advanced. The process, called passwordless authentication, is also being adopted by the financial system.

A survey by consultancy Netbr, conducted with the support of its global partner Ping Identity, showed that 77% of the lenders already execute – or are about to do so – some kind of passwordless electronic operation. “We are talking about the same standards used by big techs, now being adopted by the financial industry,” said André Facciolli, CEO of Netbr. According to him, four of the six largest Brazilian banks use the technology in authentication and authorization processes.

Another advance was the use of benefits for employees, such as food and meal vouchers. Bee Vale’s application, with multiple wallets, allows contactless payments by mobile phones. Daniel Oliveira, CEO of paySmart, a fintech that processes payments for companies and has Bee Vale as a client, said that the near field communication (NFC) technology is present in most cell phones and is an option for electronic payments.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/28/2022

TWITTER TESTS LIVE-STREAM SHOPPING MODEL IN BRAZIL

“Live commerce” is aimed at drawing advertisers and increasing revenues in the second half of the year, when major events such as the FIFA World Cup take place

Twitter, one of the most popular social media among Brazilians, began testing the live-stream shopping model in the country. The so-called “live commerce” is one pillar to attract advertisers and increase revenue in this second half of the year, when major events such as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Black Friday, and year-end holidays take place.

“We are sharing a lot with brands the increase in conversations about the World Cup on the platform because it will definitely be one of the biggest events within Twitter this year,” Fiamma Zarife, Twitter’s country manager for Brazil, told Valor.

Twitter launched live-streamed product sales last year in the United States. “We had a simultaneous audience of 2 million people in a Walmart live commerce,” the executive said.

Although Twitter is not a short video-centric platform like TikTok, Kwai, and Instagram, Ms. Zarife says that video content generates conversations on the platform and accounts for 50% of the audience, currently. “We have a symbiotic relationship with TV in content like reality shows, soap operas, and soccer, which are passions of Brazilians,” she said.

But she also considers that the economic situation is complex. “Today we have a difficult macroeconomic scenario for the whole world, not only in Brazil, which leads companies to be more cautious and assertive with marketing investments,” she said. “We know that media investment is a reflection of the economy, but we take a very positive look at how Twitter can join these major events with an influential audience, which is much more opinionated.” In the political field, in particular, Twitter is considered an important social media and is used by politicians and their followers.

This year’s Brazilian elections, with the first round of voting scheduled for October 2, are stirring up the social networks. But it is during the soccer World Cup and Black Friday that Twitter and its competitors see more opportunities to make money with video advertising, live sales, and content produced by influencers.

Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, had the largest share (26%) among digital networks in advertising investments between January and the end of July, according to Nielsen, followed by Google’s YouTube, with 22%.

Meta’s strategy to draw advertisers – the company says there are 200 million worldwide – is to turn advertising into a natural part of users’ navigation. “We combine our business solutions with the way people use our products naturally. That’s why we have invested in so many ways to create a personalized, seamless user journey from the moment people meet a brand to the moment they buy a product,” said Conrado Leister, Meta’s managing head for Brazil.

Video ads, especially long-form ads, are a major bet. “Video is a big part of why people like our apps — there are a lot of opportunities tied to this format on our platforms,” says Mr. Leister.

Globally, more than 2 billion people watch ad-eligible videos each month on Meta’s platforms, and 70% of video ad views on Facebook ads are seen in full.

Meta’s managing head in Brazil says that “short videos are a success. But long videos generate greater audience adherence to ads on the company’s networks.”

Videos also guarantee longer permanence of users in social networks and, consequently, greater exposure to advertising.

“With the increase in consumer dwell time on social media and more information collected about their interests, social media becomes a good channel to generate both brand creation and short-term sales,” said Sabrina Balhes, Nielsen’s measurement leader in Brazil.

Kwai, a social video network known as Kuaishou in China, saw a 200% jump in the dwell time of Brazilian users on the platform last year. Currently, more than 45.4 million monthly active Brazilian users of Kwai spend on average 60 minutes a day on the platform.

Soccer is one key topic among the platform’s content to draw audiences and advertisers. In September last year, Kwai signed a two-year sponsorship deal with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), which provides exclusivity in the production of short videos for the platform on the official profiles of the men’s and women’s national teams, including backstage and training sessions.

For the World Cup, the company has begun to plan special content and filters. “We will make a strong correlation with content about the event,” said Mariana Sensini, Kwai’s country managing director in Brazil. “Our research shows that users want entertainment.”

The social-media website also seeks to foster content created by social media influencers. Between March 2021 and April this year, Kwai invested R$250 million to pay 20,000 content partners in Brazil.

On Black Friday, Kwai bets on live-streamed sales. This model was launched in October in Brazil with retailer Casas Bahia.

This year, advertisers are likely to combine campaigns for the World Cup, Black Friday, and year-end holidays, said Ms. Balhes, with Nielsen. The idea is that “instead of creating a specific advertising campaign for each event, advertisers will work with umbrella campaigns that encompass the year-end sales,” she said.

Consumer confidence in social media is a key point for advertisers to direct their campaigns to this audience. According to a Nielsen study conducted in September 2021, 64% of Brazilians say they trust ads on social media. In another survey, from June, 39% said they have already bought some products promoted by social media influencers.

For the social media Pinterest, the World Cup brings the opportunity to capture the desires of Brazilians who seek decoration, fashion, and style references around the event. “With a lot of competition among social media for soccer, we decided to act on the cultural side of the World Cup,” said André Loureiro, Pinterest’s managing director for Latin America.

The social-media website is also preparing the launch of a public data tool about the behavior of its users, like Google Trends, which should go live before Black Friday, providing more elements for advertising campaigns on the platform.

“Combining the seasonality of Black Friday with the World Cup, at the same moment of the year, we have a great expectation of return in the fourth quarter,” Mr. Loureiro said.

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/30/2022

GDP EXPECTED TO SLOW DOWN AFTER Q2 GROWTH

Projections indicate that economy’s performance in first half will drive year’s result

The good performance of the Brazilian economy in the first half of the year may account almost alone for GDP growth in the full year 2022. The dynamism bolstered especially by the services sector, however, is not expected to remain in the second half, when the lagged effects of monetary tightening are likely to start appearing more consistently. Meanwhile, uncertainty grows due to the elections and factors such as the momentum of economic reopening lose effect.

The median of 75 estimates collected by Valor points to a GDP expansion of 0.9% in the second quarter compared with the previous quarter. This way, the average point for the year-end result, based on 80 estimates, reached 2.1%, compared to 1.4% at the end of May. Of these, only 16 are below 2%.

Last quarter showed widespread growth, with services, industry, and farming standing out, said Lucas Maynard, an economist at Santander. In services, he points out the reopening of the economy, the increase in disposable income as the labor market improved, and the effects of fiscal stimuli, such as the early payment of the 13th salary (a mandatory year-end bonus for formally employed workers) and the authorization to withdraw money from Workers’ Severance Fund (FGTS) accounts.

The higher income also favors the consumption of industrial goods, a sector that has benefited from the improvement in global logistical hurdles caused by the mismatch between supply and demand. Inventory data, says Mr. Maynard, suggest a gradual normalization of the production chains. Industry, in particular, had a better performance in the first half of this year, unlike the second half of 2021, when it was affected by lower income and the preference for services in the consumption mix.

Santander projects growth of 1.1% for the second quarter of 2022 and expects GDP growth of 1.9% for the year. The statistical carryover for the second half is 2.3%. That is, with zero growth in the second half, this would be the country’s GDP growth.

Besides the broader factors amid a set of government measures, a structural component played a role: the surprising dynamism of the labor market recently, said Fernando Honorato Barbosa, the chief economist at Bradesco. “I see two reasons for the good moment of employment. On the one hand, the overhaul of labor laws brought more flexibility in hiring and firing and reduced costs for businesses. On the other hand, the relative price of wages compared to investments shows that today it is more beneficial to hire.”

“If we take, for example, FGV’s level of capacity utilization indicator Nuci, we see that it is above 80%, which should drive investments. But businesses have preferred to hire, and this has not only to do with the overhaul. Salaries are close to the levels seen in 2012,” he said. In July, the industry’s Nuci hit 82.3%, the highest since March 2014.

If the first and second quarters surprised to the upside, the following period is surrounded by uncertainties. This is because the effects of the Central Bank’s monetary tightening are expected to become more intense, while the push given by the post-Covid reopening ends and the uncertainties regarding the elections slows investments. Not coincidentally, the median of the 67 projections suggest a 0.2% GDP growth in the third quarter.

What complicates the reading is that, in the opposite direction of these factors, there are issues such as the higher cash transfers through the social program Auxílio Brasil, of R$600 as of August, tax exemptions, and the deceleration of inflation, which is likely to give an additional boost to activity. On the external front, the tightening of global monetary conditions that was taking shape at the end of the first half of the year was also attenuated — at least for the time being — by a slightly more dovish stance by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank. Because of this, some economists believe in a bullish bias for the numbers for the period.

4Intelligence’s current estimate is for a 1% contraction in GDP in the third quarter, but the figures do not account for possible cross effects from Auxílio Brasil, said analyst Wellington Nobrega. “With falling inflation, a heated labor market, and the government’s countercyclical policies, household consumption may do better than projected today.”

Fernando Rocha, the chief economist at the asset management JGP, also disagrees with the thesis of a “sudden blackout” in the second half of the year. In his calculations, the GDP grew 0.6% in the second quarter, seasonally adjusted. Considering the result of the first quarter, this generates a statistical effect of 1.9% for the second half, he said.

In his view, the deceleration will be more gradual than imagined. Job generation has been strong, surprising month after month, and this increases the total wage bill and props up demand for services, he said. Mr. Rocha expects GDP growth of 0.4% in each one of the next quarters. Thus, JGP’s official projection for 2022 is 2.2%, but the rate could reach 2.5%.

Another factor that could support activity in the third and fourth quarters is local government investment, which saw a boost earlier this year, said Stephan Kautz, the chief economist at EQI Asset. “Spending by municipalities was very strong. It could generate a statistical effect for the second half of the year and make Gross Fixed Capital Formation surprise this year.” That said, the asset management company expects that this set of factors will not be enough to offset downside factors. Considering negative data and reports that are already emerging in retail and construction, the company projects a 0.1% expansion in the third quarter.

Looking ahead to 2023, estimates have also deteriorated. The median of the 78 projections showed a 0.4% expansion, compared with 0.7% in the previous survey.

In addition to the contractionary effect of monetary policy, which will reach its maximum effect in early 2023, the uncertainty about the economic policy of the next administration is weighing on estimates, said Mr. Honorato, with Bradesco. In his opinion, question marks about what lies ahead will not be solved with the election results.

“We still don’t have details about this new arrangement, and I believe that the uncertainty will remain until the first half of 2023. The new administration could build an enormous market confidence, so that the exchange rate appreciates, inflation falls faster and so does the [policy interest rate] Selic. It might not,” said Mr. Honorato, who sees zero growth in 2023. “The point is that, with fixed interest rates at 7.5% and long rates at 6%, it is undeniable that uncertainty is there and will affect the economy.”

Santander estimates a 0.6% contraction, but with an upward bias. Among the factors playing against next year’s GDP growth are the exhaustion of the effects of the reopening of the economy and the still unfavorable situation abroad, Mr. Maynard said.

EQI is more optimistic, with a forecast of a 0.9% GDP growth. “We believe that agriculture will again have a good year in 2023, growing close to 3.5%. The high interest rates are less relevant for the segment, which has directed credit. Besides this, the global slowdown affects more metallic commodities. The agricultural ones are better isolated,” he said. “Agribusiness has a smaller relative participation in the economy, but it generates positive, indirect effects as well.”

Source: Valor International https://valorinternational.globo.com/

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08/31/2022

SALES OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINES AT HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE 2013

Market resumes expansion and has already grown 40% in first half

The good performance of the Brazilian agribusiness, supported by record harvests and high international prices of commodities such as soy and corn, keeps producers capitalized and continues to stimulate the upgrade of agricultural machines and equipment, with expressive reflexes on the insurance market.

According to the federation of automotive vehicles distribution (Fenabrave), the sales in the segment — fostered mainly with funds from Moderfrota, the main credit line for investments in the Crop Plan — increased 32.9% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2021, to 31,600 units. It was the best result for the period since 2013. And the trend is upward.

According to Brazil’s statistic agency IBGE, the production of agricultural capital goods increased 14% in June over the same month in 2021. In the 12 months through June, the high was 11.5%. Last year’s figures seen poised to be exceeded. Last year, according to Abimaq, sales totaled 58,000 units, or R$ 38.3 billion.

Simultaneously, the insurance market for the equipment is also growing because they are expensive assets — harvesters, for example, cost millions. According to the Superintendence of Private Insurance (Susep), premiums in the area reached R$1.6 billion from January to June, with a nominal increase of 42.38%. After adjusting to inflation, the increase was 27.98%.

Although it is a significant amount, the insurance of improvements or equity (when the equipment is not used as collateral for a loan) and rural pledge (when the good is given as collateral), represent a fraction of vehicle insurance turnovers, whose premiums exceeded R$22 billion in the period.

With an eye on this gap, traditional companies and cooperatives have been trying to improve insurance for agricultural machinery in Brazil. Bradesco Seguros is one of them. The company wants to triple its penetration in the segment by the end of 2023, and to do so it is designing partnerships with cooperatives and startups, modernizing policies, and investing in training for its brokers.

Bradesco Seguros closed the first half of the year with more than 20,000 insured agricultural machines and equipment, 34% more than in the same period of 2021. Premiums rose 57%, to R$110 million. Coinciding with the agribusiness map, the Central-West and South regions account for about 70% of Bradesco’s sales in the segment. For 2022, the goal is to reach R$200 million in premiums, a 31% increase over 2021.

Saint Clair Pereira Lima, head of Bradesco Seguros, the growth figures show that the segment has never been so good, although it is still little understood by the farmers. “Most machinery insurance is taken out when the asset is financed. We want to show that insurance is the continuity of the business. If a harvester breaks down in a crucial period, the farm’s productivity is compromised”, he said.

According to the executive, the price does not impede for the producer to take out insurance. The average rate charged is around 1.2% of the value of the asset, compared to 4% in the case of vehicle insurance.

The numbers of Banco do Brasil Seguros, an institution historically closer to farmers, show that spontaneous insurance is incipient. The company issued R$31 million in premiums in the first half of the year, with 12,000 policies — up 60% year-over-year. Insurance linked to bank loans totaled R$660 million, with 480,000 policies and an increase of 30%.

“The market has changed, but the perception of risk for farmers is different. They see the need for agricultural insurance because they feel the effects of the drought, but the wear and tear of parts and the need for machinery maintenance is seen as an inherent risk,” said Aline Milani, BB’s rural insurance development manager.

She also observes that farmers, in general, are not used to insuring assets, unlike what happens in urban centers. “Large producers, instead of insuring, do fleet management. They take a harvester from one farm and sends it to another, as needed. This is common with cotton equipment, which is very expensive. Small and medium producers, on the other hand, sometimes have old machines, which are not serve by insurance companies,” she said.

Sávio Susin, Sicredi’s insurance head, points out that this is one of the major problems faced by the group, whose focus is on members of credit cooperatives. “It is not uncommon for machinery that is more than 10 years old to continue in use by members of the cooperatives, and these are outside the insurance market. And for medium-sized producers, the price is an obstacle,” he said.

For Mr. Susin, although the rate charged is not so high, the absolute value is, because agricultural equipment costs from tens of thousands of reais to a few million. “With more technology on board every day, there are machines that cost more than R$3 million or R$4 million. That is, 1% of these values is a lot of money for smaller producers.”

Sicredi serves about 26,000 producers and financed R$8.2 billion in machinery in 2021/22, in more than 38,500 operations. Of this total, only 31% included direct insurance. In the others, the producers sought other agents.

The equipment claims are much more related to damage or accidents, such as overturning, than to theft. And, in the market’s perception, thefts need to gain more weight in this bill. “We have been insisting that the producer takes out agricultural insurance and equipment insurance so as not to lose assets, but it hasn’t been that simple. We always think that nothing will happen to us, right?” said Alcir José Goldoni, CEO of Credicoamo, which operates as a rural credit cooperative of Coamo, the largest agricultural cooperative in the country.

“And it’s not enough to insure the machines. You have to protect the shed where they are stored, the power equipment, everything. It is asset preservation. If a cyclone comes, everything is lost,” he said. Credicoamo has more than 10,000 machine policies, the majority of products that are still being paid for.

Source: Valor International – https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Auction of ultra-deep oil areas likely to draw competition, regulator says

Petrobras, Petronas, BP, Shell and Chevron showed interest; number of companies registered is seen as a positive sign

08/31/2022


Rodolfo Saboia — Foto: Leo Pinheiro/Valor

Rodolfo Saboia — Foto: Leo Pinheiro/Valor

The auction of ultra-deep pre-salt areas, scheduled for December, is likely to draw competition for the assets, said Rodolfo Saboia, the director general of the National Petroleum Agency (ANP). The number of companies registered to participate in the contest and the speed with which they expressed interest are positive signs, according to him.

“Everything indicates that there will be a good dispute. The [oil barrel] prices are high, and the assets are good. As soon as the call for bids was ready, there were expressions of interest from the companies. We expected that because we trust the quality of what is being put up for auction,” Mr. Saboia told Valor during the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS), the largest energy event in Europe, in Stavanger, Norway.

The auction scheduled for December 16 will be the first to auction blocks under the production sharing regime through the permanent offer – an ANP auction that is called only after companies show interest in the areas. In all, 11 blocks will be auctioned. Petrobras, Petronas, BP, Shell, Chevron, CNODC, CNOOC and TotalEnergies are the companies registered to participate.

Despite the discussions regarding the transition to a low-carbon economy, the world will still need fossil fuels, Mr. Saboia said. “Without enough renewable sources to replace fossil fuels, we will continue with fossil fuels. We can’t compromise energy security, as 84% of global energy still comes from fossil sources,” he said.

Regarding the supply of fuels in Brazil, Mr. Saboia said that the current energy crisis in Europe, which suffers from sanctions on Russian exports, can have an impact on Brazil, but stressed that at the moment there are no signs of supply problems yet. “Imports are happening in a normal way. There is no reason at this moment to believe that there will be any shortage of these products,” he said.

Mr. Saboia recalled that ANP monitors the fuel market in the country, including demand, supply, stocks and new import contracts. “These purchases are made well in advance and are expected to arrive up to a month and a half ahead, so at the moment we have no expectation of shortage,” he said.

The reporter’s travel costs were covered by Norwegian Energy Partners and Innovation Norway.

*By Gabriela Ruddy — Stavanger, Norway

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Socicam slows expansion to focus on quality

Company became largest operator of medium-sized airports and grew fourfold in five years

08/31/2022


Wanderley Galhiego Jr. — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Wanderley Galhiego Jr. — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

After a strong expansion cycle in recent years, Socicam is now entering a moment of internal reorganization and focusing on recently won contracts. The company, founded 50 years ago to manage bus terminals, has now become the largest operator of medium-sized airports in Brazil, with 26 terminals, 17 of which have been won since 2019.

“The company’s backlog of contracts has increased fourfold in five years,” said Wanderley Galhiego Jr., the company’s head of new business and innovation, in an interview with Valor. The company expects to reach the end of 2022 with a set of projects worth R$10.7 billion, considering the gross revenue of all contracts throughout the term of the concession.

The most recent of them is the block of airports in the North region, in Belém (Pará) and Macapá (Amapá), that the company won in the latest federal auction held about two weeks ago.

The victory in this bidding closes the current cycle of growth for Socicam, according to Mr. Galhiego. “Even with all the challenges of the pandemic, we were able to take advantage of the opportunities to grow. But now we turn inward and work. This is the time to deliver everything that is planned with quality,” he said.

Besides the North lot, in the past few years, Socicam has won a lot of 11 airports in São Paulo (led by São José do Rio Preto) and a lot of four airports in Mato Grosso. Together, those three contracts foresee investments of at least R$1.8 billion considering the values foreseen in the project studies, which will be carried out over about 30 years.

The airports’ division has already become the most important for the group, accounting for more than half of the revenues.

The development plan for the airports is individual, according to the features of each terminal, Mr. Galhiego says. The airports in Mato Grosso, for example, have a strong vein of business focused on agribusiness, but there is also potential for new tourism routes to the coast since the state is a relevant source of tourists.

However, beyond the individual opportunities, the network operation brings advantages, for example, in the dialogue with airlines and business partners, says the executive.

Socicam has also had an expansion in its land terminal segment in recent years. By 2021, the company has won two important public-private partnerships (PPPs): one to manage part of the bus terminals in the city of São Paulo and the second to operate terminals in the metropolitan region of Recife, Pernambuco. The company operates 102 terminals in total.

The group was founded in 1972 by the Freitas family, initially to manage the old Campinas Bus Station — which is the origin of the name of the company, where “Cam” stands for Campinas. The company became one of the main operators in the segment and is still responsible for the three bus terminals in the capital city of São Paulo.

*By Taís Hirata — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Sales of agricultural machines at highest level since 2013

Market resumes expansion and has already grown 40% in first half

08/31/2022


Aline Milani — Foto: Divulgação

Aline Milani — Foto: Divulgação

The good performance of the Brazilian agribusiness, supported by record harvests and high international prices of commodities such as soy and corn, keeps producers capitalized and continues to stimulate the upgrade of agricultural machines and equipment, with expressive reflexes on the insurance market.

According to the federation of automotive vehicles distribution (Fenabrave), the sales in the segment — fostered mainly with funds from Moderfrota, the main credit line for investments in the Crop Plan — increased 32.9% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2021, to 31,600 units. It was the best result for the period since 2013. And the trend is upward.

According to Brazil’s statistic agency IBGE, the production of agricultural capital goods increased 14% in June over the same month in 2021. In the 12 months through June, the high was 11.5%. Last year’s figures seen poised to be exceeded. Last year, according to Abimaq, sales totaled 58,000 units, or R$ 38.3 billion.

Simultaneously, the insurance market for the equipment is also growing because they are expensive assets — harvesters, for example, cost millions. According to the Superintendence of Private Insurance (Susep), premiums in the area reached R$1.6 billion from January to June, with a nominal increase of 42.38%. After adjusting to inflation, the increase was 27.98%.

Although it is a significant amount, the insurance of improvements or equity (when the equipment is not used as collateral for a loan) and rural pledge (when the good is given as collateral), represent a fraction of vehicle insurance turnovers, whose premiums exceeded R$22 billion in the period.

With an eye on this gap, traditional companies and cooperatives have been trying to improve insurance for agricultural machinery in Brazil. Bradesco Seguros is one of them. The company wants to triple its penetration in the segment by the end of 2023, and to do so it is designing partnerships with cooperatives and startups, modernizing policies, and investing in training for its brokers.

Bradesco Seguros closed the first half of the year with more than 20,000 insured agricultural machines and equipment, 34% more than in the same period of 2021. Premiums rose 57%, to R$110 million. Coinciding with the agribusiness map, the Central-West and South regions account for about 70% of Bradesco’s sales in the segment. For 2022, the goal is to reach R$200 million in premiums, a 31% increase over 2021.

Saint Clair Pereira Lima, head of Bradesco Seguros, the growth figures show that the segment has never been so good, although it is still little understood by the farmers. “Most machinery insurance is taken out when the asset is financed. We want to show that insurance is the continuity of the business. If a harvester breaks down in a crucial period, the farm’s productivity is compromised”, he said.

According to the executive, the price does not impede for the producer to take out insurance. The average rate charged is around 1.2% of the value of the asset, compared to 4% in the case of vehicle insurance.

The numbers of Banco do Brasil Seguros, an institution historically closer to farmers, show that spontaneous insurance is incipient. The company issued R$31 million in premiums in the first half of the year, with 12,000 policies — up 60% year-over-year. Insurance linked to bank loans totaled R$660 million, with 480,000 policies and an increase of 30%.

“The market has changed, but the perception of risk for farmers is different. They see the need for agricultural insurance because they feel the effects of the drought, but the wear and tear of parts and the need for machinery maintenance is seen as an inherent risk,” said Aline Milani, BB’s rural insurance development manager.

She also observes that farmers, in general, are not used to insuring assets, unlike what happens in urban centers. “Large producers, instead of insuring, do fleet management. They take a harvester from one farm and sends it to another, as needed. This is common with cotton equipment, which is very expensive. Small and medium producers, on the other hand, sometimes have old machines, which are not serve by insurance companies,” she said.

Sávio Susin, Sicredi’s insurance head, points out that this is one of the major problems faced by the group, whose focus is on members of credit cooperatives. “It is not uncommon for machinery that is more than 10 years old to continue in use by members of the cooperatives, and these are outside the insurance market. And for medium-sized producers, the price is an obstacle,” he said.

For Mr. Susin, although the rate charged is not so high, the absolute value is, because agricultural equipment costs from tens of thousands of reais to a few million. “With more technology on board every day, there are machines that cost more than R$3 million or R$4 million. That is, 1% of these values is a lot of money for smaller producers.”

Sicredi serves about 26,000 producers and financed R$8.2 billion in machinery in 2021/22, in more than 38,500 operations. Of this total, only 31% included direct insurance. In the others, the producers sought other agents.

The equipment claims are much more related to damage or accidents, such as overturning, than to theft. And, in the market’s perception, thefts need to gain more weight in this bill. “We have been insisting that the producer takes out agricultural insurance and equipment insurance so as not to lose assets, but it hasn’t been that simple. We always think that nothing will happen to us, right?” said Alcir José Goldoni, CEO of Credicoamo, which operates as a rural credit cooperative of Coamo, the largest agricultural cooperative in the country.

“And it’s not enough to insure the machines. You have to protect the shed where they are stored, the power equipment, everything. It is asset preservation. If a cyclone comes, everything is lost,” he said. Credicoamo has more than 10,000 machine policies, the majority of products that are still being paid for.

*By Fernanda Pressinott — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

GDP expected to slow down after Q2 growth

Projections indicate that economy’s performance in first half will drive year’s result

08/30/2022


The good performance of the Brazilian economy in the first half of the year may account almost alone for GDP growth in the full year 2022. The dynamism bolstered especially by the services sector, however, is not expected to remain in the second half, when the lagged effects of monetary tightening are likely to start appearing more consistently. Meanwhile, uncertainty grows due to the elections and factors such as the momentum of economic reopening lose effect.

The median of 75 estimates collected by Valor points to a GDP expansion of 0.9% in the second quarter compared with the previous quarter. This way, the average point for the year-end result, based on 80 estimates, reached 2.1%, compared to 1.4% at the end of May. Of these, only 16 are below 2%.

Last quarter showed widespread growth, with services, industry, and farming standing out, said Lucas Maynard, an economist at Santander. In services, he points out the reopening of the economy, the increase in disposable income as the labor market improved, and the effects of fiscal stimuli, such as the early payment of the 13th salary (a mandatory year-end bonus for formally employed workers) and the authorization to withdraw money from Workers’ Severance Fund (FGTS) accounts.

The higher income also favors the consumption of industrial goods, a sector that has benefited from the improvement in global logistical hurdles caused by the mismatch between supply and demand. Inventory data, says Mr. Maynard, suggest a gradual normalization of the production chains. Industry, in particular, had a better performance in the first half of this year, unlike the second half of 2021, when it was affected by lower income and the preference for services in the consumption mix.

Santander projects growth of 1.1% for the second quarter of 2022 and expects GDP growth of 1.9% for the year. The statistical carryover for the second half is 2.3%. That is, with zero growth in the second half, this would be the country’s GDP growth.

Fernando Honorato — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Fernando Honorato — Foto: Carol Carquejeiro/Valor

Besides the broader factors amid a set of government measures, a structural component played a role: the surprising dynamism of the labor market recently, said Fernando Honorato Barbosa, the chief economist at Bradesco. “I see two reasons for the good moment of employment. On the one hand, the overhaul of labor laws brought more flexibility in hiring and firing and reduced costs for businesses. On the other hand, the relative price of wages compared to investments shows that today it is more beneficial to hire.”

“If we take, for example, FGV’s level of capacity utilization indicator Nuci, we see that it is above 80%, which should drive investments. But businesses have preferred to hire, and this has not only to do with the overhaul. Salaries are close to the levels seen in 2012,” he said. In July, the industry’s Nuci hit 82.3%, the highest since March 2014.

If the first and second quarters surprised to the upside, the following period is surrounded by uncertainties. This is because the effects of the Central Bank’s monetary tightening are expected to become more intense, while the push given by the post-Covid reopening ends and the uncertainties regarding the elections slows investments. Not coincidentally, the median of the 67 projections suggest a 0.2% GDP growth in the third quarter.

What complicates the reading is that, in the opposite direction of these factors, there are issues such as the higher cash transfers through the social program Auxílio Brasil, of R$600 as of August, tax exemptions, and the deceleration of inflation, which is likely to give an additional boost to activity. On the external front, the tightening of global monetary conditions that was taking shape at the end of the first half of the year was also attenuated — at least for the time being — by a slightly more dovish stance by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank. Because of this, some economists believe in a bullish bias for the numbers for the period.

4Intelligence’s current estimate is for a 1% contraction in GDP in the third quarter, but the figures do not account for possible cross effects from Auxílio Brasil, said analyst Wellington Nobrega. “With falling inflation, a heated labor market, and the government’s countercyclical policies, household consumption may do better than projected today.”

Fernando Rocha, the chief economist at the asset management JGP, also disagrees with the thesis of a “sudden blackout” in the second half of the year. In his calculations, the GDP grew 0.6% in the second quarter, seasonally adjusted. Considering the result of the first quarter, this generates a statistical effect of 1.9% for the second half, he said.

In his view, the deceleration will be more gradual than imagined. Job generation has been strong, surprising month after month, and this increases the total wage bill and props up demand for services, he said. Mr. Rocha expects GDP growth of 0.4% in each one of the next quarters. Thus, JGP’s official projection for 2022 is 2.2%, but the rate could reach 2.5%.

Another factor that could support activity in the third and fourth quarters is local government investment, which saw a boost earlier this year, said Stephan Kautz, the chief economist at EQI Asset. “Spending by municipalities was very strong. It could generate a statistical effect for the second half of the year and make Gross Fixed Capital Formation surprise this year.” That said, the asset management company expects that this set of factors will not be enough to offset downside factors. Considering negative data and reports that are already emerging in retail and construction, the company projects a 0.1% expansion in the third quarter.

Looking ahead to 2023, estimates have also deteriorated. The median of the 78 projections showed a 0.4% expansion, compared with 0.7% in the previous survey.

In addition to the contractionary effect of monetary policy, which will reach its maximum effect in early 2023, the uncertainty about the economic policy of the next administration is weighing on estimates, said Mr. Honorato, with Bradesco. In his opinion, question marks about what lies ahead will not be solved with the election results.

“We still don’t have details about this new arrangement, and I believe that the uncertainty will remain until the first half of 2023. The new administration could build an enormous market confidence, so that the exchange rate appreciates, inflation falls faster and so does the [policy interest rate] Selic. It might not,” said Mr. Honorato, who sees zero growth in 2023. “The point is that, with fixed interest rates at 7.5% and long rates at 6%, it is undeniable that uncertainty is there and will affect the economy.”

Santander estimates a 0.6% contraction, but with an upward bias. Among the factors playing against next year’s GDP growth are the exhaustion of the effects of the reopening of the economy and the still unfavorable situation abroad, Mr. Maynard said.

EQI is more optimistic, with a forecast of a 0.9% GDP growth. “We believe that agriculture will again have a good year in 2023, growing close to 3.5%. The high interest rates are less relevant for the segment, which has directed credit. Besides this, the global slowdown affects more metallic commodities. The agricultural ones are better isolated,” he said. “Agribusiness has a smaller relative participation in the economy, but it generates positive, indirect effects as well.”

*By Marcelo Osakabe, Marta Watanabe — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Government said to maintain fuel tax relief in next year’s budget

Tax benefit ends officially on December 31, but President Bolsonaro has already signaled he would seek its extension

08/30/2022


Jair Bolsonaro — Foto: Cristiano Mariz/Agência O Globo

Jair Bolsonaro — Foto: Cristiano Mariz/Agência O Globo

The fuel tax relief, a trump card of President Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) in the election campaign, is expected to be maintained next year. The tax benefit ends officially on December 31, but the president has already signaled that he would seek its extension.

The 2023 budget bill, which will be sent to Congress by Wednesday, provides for tax breaks of R$50 billion due to the fuel tax relief, officials say, including R$18 billion for diesel alone.

Another important campaign promise, however, will not be included in the budget bill. According to the budget blueprint, Auxílio Brasil, the social program created to replace Bolsa Família, will only distribute R$400 a month, compared with R$600 now. A legal provision – that currently does not exist – is needed to keep the current value next year, as promised by President Bolsonaro, who is running for re-election, and some of his opponents, including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party, PT) and Senator Simone Tebet (Brazilian Democratic Movement, MDB).

Mr. Bolsonaro will include the forecast of paying R$600 in 2023 in the message that accompanies the budget bill to Congress. The idea faced some resistance from officials because it is not a usual step. However, it was the way found to reinforce the promise. In the debate held by a pool of news outlets led by TV network Band, Mr. Lula da Silva criticized him for failing to include the higher Auxílio Brasil cash transfers in the 2023 budget bill.

In campaign advertising, the president has said that the aid will be paid in line with “fiscal responsibility” principles. Behind the scenes, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has advocated that the source of funding for the additional expense of R$50 billion to R$60 billion should be the collection of individual income tax on dividends. Government estimates suggest that the collection would be similar to that.

This taxation is part of a bill in Congress, which has already been passed by the Chamber of Deputies but faced resistance from senators. During the debate on Sunday, Mr. Bolsonaro said he would seek the means to raise and finance the aid in dialogue with Congress after the elections.

The adjustment of the income tax rates, a promise of Mr. Bolsonaro’s 2018 campaign, is not expected to be included in the budget bill, sources say. One reason is the requirement of an alternative source of revenue.

The budget bill is likely to include R$10.5 billion to adjust the salaries of civil servants next year.

Although the federal accounts tend to end the year in the black, the budget bill is likely to project a R$65 billion deficit.

As Valor reported last week, R$430 billion would be needed to foot all the promises speculated that require spending and tax breaks next year. Officials specializing in the budget, both from the Executive and the Legislative branches, expect the 2023 budget bill to be modified after the elections, in October.

*By Lu Aiko Otta — Brasília

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Companies intensify talks to renegotiate debts

Out-of-court agreements gain ground as businesses focus on changing their debt profiles

08/30/2022


Cemig’s building — Foto: Divulgação

Cemig’s building — Foto: Divulgação

Companies are intensifying talks with financial consultants and law firms specializing in restructuring to renegotiate their debts with creditors, sources say. With the increase in the cost of capital due to the high interest rates and limited supply of funds in the market, negotiations for out-of-court agreements are gaining ground with a focus on changing the debt profile of these companies. One negotiation involves Pif Paf, a well-known food brand in Brazil, which has analyzed going public in 2021, but currently faces a difficult financial situation.

Companies from sectors as diverse as food, textile, civil construction, energy, retail, and services are seeking mediation with creditors. The negotiations gained more strength especially after the second quarter, with the pandemic under control, but in a scenario of escalating interest rates, exchange rate still at high levels and increased financial expenses.

“The crisis scenario generated at the beginning of the pandemic mitigated the problem for many companies, with creditors willing to renegotiate longer terms. But this scenario has been changing in recent months, with the environment of higher interest rates, inflation, and possible recession,” said Luiz Galeazzi, with the financial restructuring company Galeazzi Associados.

According to Eduardo Wanderley, a partner with the restructuring and insolvency team of BMA Advogados, many creditors gave “a break” of one to two years in collections. “This is because at that time, if you tried to offer the debt security in the market, there wouldn’t even be a buyer. And there was a scenario of banks with more liquidity, with the measures taken by the Central Bank in 2020. We even thought that renegotiations would see a boom, but it didn’t work out that way,” he said. “There are signs that the market may be entering at this moment. We feel was that this would come back between this year and the next, especially.”

“Last week we were approached by a large service company in search for restructuring. Those who failed to do so before are suffering now. Those who restructured their debts and now need to go back to the market to roll over [debt] face very expensive credit. And this will create a more difficult scenario,” he said.

Eduardo Gallardo, a lawyer with professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, says inquiries from companies seeking restructuring have increased. “With escalating interest rates, inflation and the risk of recession ahead, the bill starts to arrive and affects companies that can’t increase revenue.”

Fish producer GeneSeas, controlled by private-equity fund Aqua Capital, is in intense talks with creditors to avoid filing for protection from creditors, sources say. From January to June, the company’s revenue reached R$210 million, while the debt in the same period totals R$220 million. At this moment, the group is negotiating with creditors, a stage that expires at the end of September.

Power companies Cemig and Santo Antonio are also in talks with banks to change their debt profiles, sources familiar with the matter say. Both companies have invested to expand in recent years, but their complex shareholder structures involving several shareholders delay negotiations.

As for meatpacker Pif Paf, the company’s lawyers informed the courts in July that the group had opened mediation with creditors. Last month, the company, with R$2.7 billion in sales in 2020, filed an injunction to prevent the blockage of R$30 million from its accounts by China Construction Bank. The group says that access to those funds is key and, “as the injunction is granted and depending on the success with the Chinese bank and any other creditors, [Pif Paf] may, after 60 working days, and if necessary, file for judicial recovery,” says the request.

In a note, the group said that it made acquisitions through loans, in a structured way, but due to the current economic scenario of “sudden and accentuated rise in interest rates,” it hired G5 Partners “to develop a strategic plan focused on reducing the debt and thus ensure the maintenance of the company’s financial health.” The company also said it “maintains a constructive and transparent relationship” with the banks.

On the subject of judicial reorganization, cited in the injunction, the company said there is no ongoing process or intention to do so.

Ronaldo Vasconcelos, a partner at VH Advogados law firm and a professor at Mackenzie, sees an increase since March in collective out-of-court settlements, those closed through mediations with companies and creditors. “We saw [this movement] very clearly in the real estate industry, and, to a certain extent, in textiles,” he said. “In the construction sector, it even looks contradictory to see construction works in capital cities like São Paulo. That happens because these guys are building now based on past, low interest rates, and some of them renegotiated the terms in 2020. But now they must foot this indebtedness without getting new lines in more reasonable conditions.”

Law firm Moraes Jr. Advogados saw an increase from six months ago and is currently negotiating mediations with creditors of two meatpackers from Minas Gerais and Pernambuco, as well as food makers. “We are trying to reach an agreement, but it is very difficult because when you approach creditors for a negotiation, the creditor often asks to block stocks or something along these lines, which complicates the talks,” said lawyer Odair de Moraes Júnior.

According to him, the meat industry has revenues in dollars, which is a “natural hedge.” Yet, meatpackers made high investments to meet an export demand that did not materialize at the expected pace.

Another case involving his law firm is that of Pantera Alimentos, an Itu-based food company that owns five brands. The company had been seeking new lines since 2019 before it managed to close credits with banks and credit rights funds in the following year. Despite that, the leverage ratio grew fast, and the company now faces a R$97 million debt pile. “We started a mediation, but there was no agreement, so we had to file for protection from creditors,” he said.

“We expect this to grow in the second half of the year because election years translate into a worse economic scenario, and the Selic [Brazil’s key interest rate] will still be high in 2023. Also, a snowball has formed in many businesses, and it must be solved.”

This happens in parallel with the need for companies to put certain assets up for sale in an attempt to reduce their leverage ratios. “These are negotiations less for matters of opportunity and more because of collections,” said Thiago Giantomassi, head of banking and finance at law firm Demarest Advogados.

According to the law firm, the search of advisers in restructurings exceeds the numbers for 2020 and 2021, but is lower than that seen in the 2015 recession. “The difference to 2020 is that questions were more theoretical back then. Now companies include more practical background aspects, and they think they will not be able to solve the situation without mediation,” said Guilherme Bechara, a partner with Demarest.

Diogo Berger, head of debt restructuring at Santander, said that the current scenario is similar to the period 2014 and 2016 in terms of rising interest rates. At that time, default was more widespread. However, he now sees a benign scenario for companies, especially the large ones, as they raised funds in the capital markets. “The past crisis was very severe, with banks creating internal structures to serve these companies.”

Mr. Berger said banks’ teams grew. “Since then, the financial system has a way to work preemptively on the most complicated cases and they are able to better organize disputes [between creditors], who want to receive first.”

GeneSeas said in a note that it “faces a challenging situation, common to the entire animal protein market, amid a complex macroeconomic scenario impacted by a large increase in interest rates, high energy and commodity prices and increased likelihood of a global recession.”

Also according to the company’s note, “GeneSeas has been working on a friendly renegotiation plan with its entire production chain, through a process focused on cost reduction and the implementation of management measures that promote operational efficiency and help strengthen cash flow. The company’s goal is to maintain its operating capacity, offering quality products to customers and seeking to preserve as many jobs as possible.” Aqua Capital declined to comment.

Cemig and Santo Antonio also declined to comment.

*By Adriana Mattos, Mônica Scaramuzzo — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Most fintechs are in search for capital

Global crisis and local factors reduced investor appetite, survey by PwC and ABFintechs shows

08/29/2022


At a time of scarce IPOs and fewer, smaller checks from venture-capital funds, 80% of fintechs are seeking capital or intend to do so in the next 12 months, according to data by Fintech Deep Dive 2022, a survey held by PwC in partnership with the Brazilian Association of Fintechs (ABFintechs). The study found that 69% of fintechs finance their activities with their own funds.

“The crisis has reduced investors’ appetite for risk. Currently, there is little availability of venture capital to finance startup innovation due to some investments being frozen because of elections in Brazil and uncertainties related to prices and interest rates around the world, which were aggravated with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in early 2022,” the study says. A 56% share of the 156 fintechs heard say they have never participated in an investment round.

Among the fintechs that managed to raise funds in the last year, 49% raised between R$1 million and R$10 million. Among those seeking funds, 60% intend to receive between R$1 million and R$30 million.

Diego Perez, head of ABFintechs, said that the interviews were conducted in March and April, but with data referring to 2021. In other words, they do not yet capture the effects of the war in Ukraine and monetary tightening in the United States. Investments in fintechs are expected to drop even further this year. “I don’t understand the movement of previous years as a bubble, but perhaps more adverse scenarios, such as the pandemic and geopolitical tensions, have been underestimated or even ignored,” he said.

According to him, the current moment is one of the more selective investors, but with the capacity to make investments. “These investments are being held back at the moment, but there is always recovery after a storm. Investments are expected to decrease this year, but they are not going to disappear. They are waiting for the right moment to come.”

Luís Ruivo, a partner and financial services consulting leader at PwC in Brazil, said that the segment has consolidated in recent years. The boom of new companies seen five years ago is in the past, but those fintechs that managed to stand alone often did so supported by a large customer base, but still without cutting a profit. “They all have in common the pioneering spirit of entering underserved markets using the right recipe. Today, however, the spaces are occupied even by fintechs, and the challenge is to grow and generate profitability against a backdrop of scarce investment capital.”

Currently, 31% of fintechs invoice up to R$350,000 per year. In the previous edition, 38% said they had no revenue. Those with revenues over R$10 million total 16%. Although 65% expect to double their revenues this year, only 35% were able to break even. Breaking companies down by segments, 21% operate in credit, 16% in means of payment, 13% as digital banks, 8% in financial management, and 8% in investment management.

According to Mr. Perez, with ABFintechs, many startups began with payment means because of the regulatory opening promoted by the Central Bank in 2013. In 2018, credit fintechs were created, and now this segment is starting to mature. “In the macro scenario, we are at a time when there is high demand for credit and many micro and small businesses, which are not served by banks, are starting to turn to alternative sources, such as digital lenders,” he said.

In addition to credit supply, one area that fintechs are strongly turning to is open banking. A 43% share says they develop solutions for both open banking and Pix (Central Bank’s instant-payment system); 15% do so only for Pix; 13% do so only for open banking, and 28% are serving neither. “Most fintechs say they are already reaping or about to reap benefits from their investments in solutions related to open banking and Pix. After the mass adoption of Pix by Brazilians, companies still see opportunities to explore the new payment method to diversify their product and service offerings and draw customers. Likewise, open banking has not yet fully shown its potential to transform the market,” the study says.

Among the greatest difficulties cited by fintechs are drawing qualified human resources (56%), obtaining investment for the business (51%), achieving scale (41%), having brand recognition (38%), and generating revenues (29%). For the head of ABFintechs, there tends to be an improvement in the first item, either by the crisis in the cryptocurrency segment and the wave of layoffs it has been causing or by the devaluation of the euro against the dollar, which makes European IT professionals cheaper to hire – which will possibly reduce the pressure of U.S. companies on human resources in Latin America.

*By Álvaro Campos — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Twitter tests live-stream shopping model in Brazil

“Live commerce” is aimed at drawing advertisers and increasing revenues in the second half of the year, when major events such as the FIFA World Cup take place

08/28/2022


Fiamma Zarife — Foto: Silvia Zamboni/Valor

Fiamma Zarife — Foto: Silvia Zamboni/Valor

Twitter, one of the most popular social media among Brazilians, began testing the live-stream shopping model in the country. The so-called “live commerce” is one pillar to attract advertisers and increase revenue in this second half of the year, when major events such as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Black Friday, and year-end holidays take place.

“We are sharing a lot with brands the increase in conversations about the World Cup on the platform because it will definitely be one of the biggest events within Twitter this year,” Fiamma Zarife, Twitter’s country manager for Brazil, told Valor.

Twitter launched live-streamed product sales last year in the United States. “We had a simultaneous audience of 2 million people in a Walmart live commerce,” the executive said.

Although Twitter is not a short video-centric platform like TikTok, Kwai, and Instagram, Ms. Zarife says that video content generates conversations on the platform and accounts for 50% of the audience, currently. “We have a symbiotic relationship with TV in content like reality shows, soap operas, and soccer, which are passions of Brazilians,” she said.

But she also considers that the economic situation is complex. “Today we have a difficult macroeconomic scenario for the whole world, not only in Brazil, which leads companies to be more cautious and assertive with marketing investments,” she said. “We know that media investment is a reflection of the economy, but we take a very positive look at how Twitter can join these major events with an influential audience, which is much more opinionated.” In the political field, in particular, Twitter is considered an important social media and is used by politicians and their followers.

This year’s Brazilian elections, with the first round of voting scheduled for October 2, are stirring up the social networks. But it is during the soccer World Cup and Black Friday that Twitter and its competitors see more opportunities to make money with video advertising, live sales, and content produced by influencers.

Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, had the largest share (26%) among digital networks in advertising investments between January and the end of July, according to Nielsen, followed by Google’s YouTube, with 22%.

Meta’s strategy to draw advertisers – the company says there are 200 million worldwide – is to turn advertising into a natural part of users’ navigation. “We combine our business solutions with the way people use our products naturally. That’s why we have invested in so many ways to create a personalized, seamless user journey from the moment people meet a brand to the moment they buy a product,” said Conrado Leister, Meta’s managing head for Brazil.

Video ads, especially long-form ads, are a major bet. “Video is a big part of why people like our apps — there are a lot of opportunities tied to this format on our platforms,” says Mr. Leister.

Globally, more than 2 billion people watch ad-eligible videos each month on Meta’s platforms, and 70% of video ad views on Facebook ads are seen in full.

Meta’s managing head in Brazil says that “short videos are a success. But long videos generate greater audience adherence to ads on the company’s networks.”

Videos also guarantee longer permanence of users in social networks and, consequently, greater exposure to advertising.

“With the increase in consumer dwell time on social media and more information collected about their interests, social media becomes a good channel to generate both brand creation and short-term sales,” said Sabrina Balhes, Nielsen’s measurement leader in Brazil.

Kwai, a social video network known as Kuaishou in China, saw a 200% jump in the dwell time of Brazilian users on the platform last year. Currently, more than 45.4 million monthly active Brazilian users of Kwai spend on average 60 minutes a day on the platform.

Soccer is one key topic among the platform’s content to draw audiences and advertisers. In September last year, Kwai signed a two-year sponsorship deal with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), which provides exclusivity in the production of short videos for the platform on the official profiles of the men’s and women’s national teams, including backstage and training sessions.

For the World Cup, the company has begun to plan special content and filters. “We will make a strong correlation with content about the event,” said Mariana Sensini, Kwai’s country managing director in Brazil. “Our research shows that users want entertainment.”

The social-media website also seeks to foster content created by social media influencers. Between March 2021 and April this year, Kwai invested R$250 million to pay 20,000 content partners in Brazil.

On Black Friday, Kwai bets on live-streamed sales. This model was launched in October in Brazil with retailer Casas Bahia.

This year, advertisers are likely to combine campaigns for the World Cup, Black Friday, and year-end holidays, said Ms. Balhes, with Nielsen. The idea is that “instead of creating a specific advertising campaign for each event, advertisers will work with umbrella campaigns that encompass the year-end sales,” she said.

Consumer confidence in social media is a key point for advertisers to direct their campaigns to this audience. According to a Nielsen study conducted in September 2021, 64% of Brazilians say they trust ads on social media. In another survey, from June, 39% said they have already bought some products promoted by social media influencers.

For the social media Pinterest, the World Cup brings the opportunity to capture the desires of Brazilians who seek decoration, fashion, and style references around the event. “With a lot of competition among social media for soccer, we decided to act on the cultural side of the World Cup,” said André Loureiro, Pinterest’s managing director for Latin America.

The social-media website is also preparing the launch of a public data tool about the behavior of its users, like Google Trends, which should go live before Black Friday, providing more elements for advertising campaigns on the platform.

“Combining the seasonality of Black Friday with the World Cup, at the same moment of the year, we have a great expectation of return in the fourth quarter,” Mr. Loureiro said.

*By Daniela Braun — São Paulo

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/

Government postpones super terminal project in Santos

Auction is seen as materializing only after port privatization, which depends on presidential election

08/29/2022


BTP is one of the port’s container terminals — Foto: Ana Paula Paiva/Valor

BTP is one of the port’s container terminals — Foto: Ana Paula Paiva/Valor

The federal administration gave up on auctioning this year a new “super terminal” at the Port of Santos, which is expected to expand container handling capacity by up to 40%. Depending on the election results in October, the new terminal – also known as STS10 – will be put on the block only after the privatization of Santos Port Authority (SPA). The studies for that are expected to reach this week the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), a public spending watchdog not related to Brazil’s Judiciary system.

The change in plans was caused by problems in the studies made by the state-owned company Empresa de Planejamento e Logística (EPL), which will have to be updated, and to competition issues, sources say.

The volume of investments initially calculated in the study, around R$2.2 billion, would have to be updated by 50% because of inflation and the higher prices of the main inputs.

Competition is another concern. Three smaller terminals currently handle vehicles and other break bulk cargoes, such as wind turbine blades and transformers, in the area where STS10 would be built. It is still unclear how cargo flow would be accommodated after the containers arrive.

The studies will be updated because of that, which puts the auction back at an earlier stage than today’s port privatization process. “The end of an administration is not the best moment for such decisions,” said an official that follows the case closely.

The outcome will also depend heavily on the election. If President Jair Bolsonaro is reelected, the privatization of the Port of Santos is likely to be concluded in the first half of 2023, and the “super terminal” would have to be auctioned by the port’s new private-sector owners.

The Ministry of Infrastructure planned to auction the terminal before privatizing the port, but the second option turned out to be the more feasible one. “It was very much reliant on the pace of one project and another. As the STS10 ended up being delayed, they made this decision,” a source within the government said.

In this new scenario, privatization may include some additional requirements, such as maintaining an area in STS10 to handle vehicles and wind power equipment.

If former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wins the election, the original plan is likely to remain in place. Advisors to the Workers’ Party (PT) have already said Mr. Lula da Silva does not intend to privatize the port. In this case, the container “super terminal” would be auctioned by the government, accordingly to the current model.

Designed to revamp the port and encourage competition, the new terminal has the potential to attract R$1 billion in fixed concession payments. If the concession takes place even after Santos is privatized, the government would have to increase the fixed concession payment to offset the loss of such an asset.

STS10 will have a similar capacity to that of Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP) and Santos Brasil terminals, which today are competing fiercely for leadership in container handling.

According to the current design of the auction, BTP could not make a bid. However, the company’s controlling shareholders – Maersk’s APM Terminals and MSC’s TIL – would be able to participate separately.

According to preliminary studies, the new terminal will have a static capacity for up to 47,500 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units of containers) at the end of the contract, in a total area of 463,800 square meters.

To offer a glimpse of what the investment foresaw in the implementation of the super terminal means, the government has called the bidding for STS08 and STS08A, two terminals for fuels, “the largest port concession ever.” Both terminals will be auctioned in November and will receive a combined capital expenditure of R$950 million.

*By Murillo Camarotto, Daniel Rittner — Brasília

Source: Valor International

https://valorinternational.globo.com/