January 05, 2022


Petrobras intends to enable the production of up to 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent in the main fields operated by the company by 2030, through a program aimed at increasing the recovery factor of the deposits. Named RES20, the effort was created by the company with a focus on incorporating new reserves into assets already in the operational phase.

The 20 billion barrels include not only Petrobras’s share, but also the volumes of Petrobras’s partners in the fields operated by the company. The figure, however, is nonetheless expressive. For comparison purposes, the company has produced 23 billion barrels over nearly seven decades of history.

The recovery factor indicates the percentage of the volume originally contained in a reservoir — the volume “in place” — that has already been extracted. In Brazil, these rates are historically low, in relation to what is seen, for example, in the North Sea, in Europe. According to the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), in the Campos Basin, where the main mature fields in the country are located, the recovered oil fraction is 15.8%.

In the case of mature fields, increasing the recovery factor means ensuring the extension of the asset’s useful life. Not all volume “in place” is economically recoverable, but by investing in the growth of the recovered fraction, the company is able to add more reserves to its portfolio — that is, more commercially viable volumes.

In a note, Petrobras highlighted that the RES20 will work with more well-defined and detailed deposit models. The company’s 2022-2026 business plan foresees investments of $2.5 billion in high-resolution seismic acquisitions for this purpose.

Among the assets expected to receive investments to increase the recovery factor are Roncador, in the Campos Basin post-salt, and Tupi, in the Santos Basin pre-salt.

Source: Valor International

January 05, 2022


Brazilian companies had a prominent role in mergers and acquisitions this year and are likely to be major consolidators in 2022, investment banks told Valor. Dealogic data shows that M&A activity totaled $87.7 billion up to December 20, surpassing by 26% the amount seen in 2020. In volume, 695 deals were closed, up 24% from 2020 and a record of the last 10 years.

The 571 deals involving Brazilian groups totaled $69.8 billion, while the 135 deals of foreign groups buying Brazilian companies reached $20.8 billion, according to Dealogic.

Data from consultancy Kroll show that the total number of operations totaled about R$ 600 million, with 1,500 transactions, a new record, with a more “multisectoral” profile than in other parts of the world.

“We saw activity in all sectors: retail, food and beverage, industrial, health, education, agribusiness, technology, services, oil and gas, and in techs, which is good for overall performance,” said Alexandre Pierantoni, head of corporate finance in Brazil at Kroll. He highlighted fields such as retail, logistics and healthcare, besides technology companies associated with these sectors.

Contrary to capital market offerings, which are expected to slow down next year due to the strong volatility caused by the presidential elections, M&A activity is likely to remain heated this year.

“Some companies that have given up on going public tend to seek private investors as an alternative,” said Diogo Aragão, head of M&A in Brazil at Bank of America.

Those companies that went public whose shares have devalued sharply this year may become targets of consolidator groups, Mr. Aragão said.

A group of 30 to 40 companies intended to go public between the end of this year and the first quarter of 2022, but postponed their plans due to the worsening of market conditions from September on, said Roderick Greenlees, head of investment banking at Itaú BBA.

“To make their projects viable, companies will look for an alternative, and the M&A path seems the most favorable today,” he said. Even so, the growth rate seen last year is unlikely to be repeated.

Mr. Greenlees recalled that, in the last three years, the capital market was extremely active and tapped by many companies with expansion projects. Thus, it was possible to see the result of capital injection in 2021, a very strong year for M&A, both in terms of number and financial volume. “The more we have listed companies, the greater the M&A activity.”

But there is caution from potential buyers about companies that have given up going public and are looking for a private investor. “There is an understanding that the consolidating groups are not willing to pay any price for the asset,” said Gustavo Miranda, head of investment banking at Santander. “The companies that gave up on IPOs had defined a very high price range for their assets.”

Another consensus is that private equity funds (which buy stakes in companies) are willing to look at assets in Brazil, which are cheap because of the weakened real.

Technology, health and education companies will continue to be acquisition targets, as in recent years. Another sector that will continue to be attractive is renewable energy, with interest from local and foreign companies.

“Renewable energy companies are the new tech companies. Biofuels and recycling companies will also continue to draw buyers,” said Mr. Aragão, with BofA.

This year, the number of M&A deals with volumes over $1 billion drew attention, representing about 6% of the deals, said Daniel Bassan, CEO of UBS BB. “This share was around 2% in the previous three years,” he said. The growth seen in large deals was driven by the capital market, where companies took advantage of IPOs and secondary offerings to make their expansion plans feasible.

For Mr. Bassan, the volatility expected for the coming months is expected to open M&A opportunities in the coming months. This is likely to keep activity strong in this segment given that many companies have been capitalized. “But I don’t see companies very leveraged. They don’t need to do business at any cost,” he said.

“Companies used to tap the market to pay debt and reduce leverage. Now most of them have focused on growth,” he said. Next year, with the proximity of the election and a more challenging macroeconomic backdrop, investors – whether financial or strategic – are likely to look at more advantageous deals. “Private equity firms, which have made many divestments, are now likely to start investing again. It will be a year of great opportunity for this class of investor,” he said.

Eduardo Miras, head of investment banking in Brazil at Citi, also sees venture capital funds looking for business opportunities, as well as unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion). The executive, however, declined to offer any forecast for the number of M&A deals in 2022.

For Mr. Greenlees, the expectation is that the number of deals will remain close to stability, but that the financial volume will fall. “There is a substantial number of deals in the pipeline, due to the worsening of the capital market, but I believe that the size of the operations will be a little smaller.”

Source: Valor International

January 06, 2022


The warehouse segment is in for another heated year, with multi-billion investments and high demand for leasing. E-commerce companies, retailers and the pharmaceutical industry are in the front line, and there is a search for areas for storage, exchange and distribution of products from in places as diverse as the city of São Paulo – Brazil’s largest market – and states like Minas Gerais, Bahia and Pernambuco.

Warehouse gross absorption, an indicator of new leasing contracts, grew 19% last year in the state of São Paulo, to 2.75 million square meters, data by consultancy CBRE show. Net absorption, which is the difference between leased and vacated areas, expanded 22%, to 1.56 million square meters. The consolidated figures for Brazil have not yet been disclosed, but CBRE expects that gross absorption has exceeded 5 million square meters. Both indicators meant all-time highs. Vacancy fell 1.4 percentage points in 2021, to 12.3%.

The volumes seen in the state of São Paulo and in Brazil are likely to remain flat in 2022, said Fernando Terra, senior director of industrial and logistics for Latin America at CBRE.

On the one hand, a slowdown in e-commerce is not expected, Mr. Terra said. On the other hand, most of the main companies in the segment have contracted a substantial volume of large warehouses in the last two years. “Certainly, the big players will take smaller areas,” he said. At the same time, e-commerce players that arrived recently in Brazil, like Shopee and Alibaba, are likely to pick larger warehouses.

As the vacancy rate of warehouses fell, the next effect of the heated demand will be higher rental prices, said Giancarlo Nicastro, CEO of SiiLA, a consultancy focused on real estate. In view of the high new inventory expected for the Brazilian market, however, there may be some increase in the share of vacant spaces in relation to the total.

“The year starts with scheduled delivery of 3.7 million square meters in Brazil, an all-time high. Even if the total reaches only 2.6 million square meters, the vacancy rate tends to rise a little,” Mr. Nicastro said. The announced figures are usually adjusted later, he said. In 2021, the initial projection of new warehouse stock was 3.38 million square meters, but the real volume was 2.2 million.

There may be some delay in construction works, said Mariana Hanania, head of research and market intelligence in Brazil at Newmark. Part of what is under construction is already leased, she said, so there is no risk of oversupply. “Even as there was an important growth in stock, vacancy is falling,” the executive said. In the state of São Paulo, deliveries of projects have occurred mainly in regions with almost no vacancy, and a relevant part of the new stock results from the expansion of already existing projects, she added.

Amid the heated demand, warehouse developers continue to disburse large amounts to expand their assets. Bresco plans to invest R$1 billion this year as part of a plan to have a portfolio twice as large by 2024. In 2021, its assets totaled R$3.2 billion.

The consortium formed by Credit Suisse, BTG Pactual, Construtora São José and Fram Capital, which will develop a set of warehouses on land that once belonged to Ford in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, estimates to start deliveries in a year’s time and to finish it by 2024. Total investments in the purchase of the land, permits and construction work are estimated at R$1.3 billion.

Although most of the segment’s funds are destined for locations up to 30 kilometers from the city of São Paulo, there has also been the development of projects in other states. “Those who live in Pará or Amazonas also want to receive the product in one day, just like in São Paulo. This results in an avalanche of investments,” said Celina Antunes, CEO at real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.

Log Commercial Properties is the country’s most geographically diversified warehouse company. Considering finished projects and works in progress, it has facilities in 39 cities. The company expects to invest R$900 million this year. “We will have a very active year, with record investments and revenues. We will deliver almost 500,000 square meters of GLA [gross leasable area], most of it with construction already started,” CEO Sergio Fischer said. From the total to be concluded, 70% to 80% is already leased.

There may be an excess supply of warehouses in two years, considering that technological advances for cargo movement may result in the need for fewer square meters, said Nessim Sarfati, founder of Barzel Properties Gestora de Recursos. “But there is still much space for absorption of warehouses.”

Bruno Mendonça, a real estate market analyst at Bradesco BBI, expects more demand than supply of projects. But just like other segments of the real estate market, the one of warehouses has been impacted by the pressure of input costs, according to him.

Walter Cardoso, CEO at consultancy CBRE, believes that purchases and sales in the warehouse market are likely to fall this year after reaching R$8.7 billion in 2021, an all-time high. The potential drop would be driven by higher interest rates and lower fundraising by real estate investment funds. If an entire portfolio of warehouses is traded, however, the 2021 figure may be surpassed, Mr. Cardoso said. The executive also said that, in election years like this one, instability usually prompts a “flight to real estate.”

Source: Valor international

January 10, 2022


Companies are likely to take a wait-and-see approach regarding investment decision-making this year. But some segments, benefited by structural reforms or boosted by international prices, will put their money to work.

Basic sanitation, logistics, energy, oil and steelmaking are in the front line, according to company executives and business plans unveiled in documents delivered to the capital market regulator.

These companies, mostly large players on the stock exchange, can be a safe haven for a capital market that is coming off a drop in 2021 while international peers have seen all-time highs.

More than $500 billion in investments have been announced until 2030, according to a preliminary survey by consulting firm Deloitte. The highlights are the petrochemical and steel industries, and projects linked to oil and gas. These are investments unveiled for the medium to long term, with the prospect of a larger volume of allocation of funds this year than in 2021.

Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company by revenues, unveiled in November a $68 billion business plan for the 2022-2026 period – up 23% from the previous one – focused on exploration and production of oil and natural gas. In this period, the divestments foreseen by the state-owned company will be between $15 billion and $25 billion, which in theory paves the way for new investments from the companies that will take over these assets. That has been happening in recent years amid Petrobras’s effort to reduce its debt pile.

In the basic sanitation industry, large figures are also expected. Between 2022 and 2026, water utilities Sabesp (São Paulo), Copasa (Minas Gerais), Sanepar (Paraná) – the three largest listed companies in the sector – and Corsan (Rio Grande do Sul), which is expected to go public this year, have unveiled combined investments of R$45.5 billion, up 67% from the amount spent between 2017 and 2021.

That’s almost eight times what they had on hand at the end of September, and compares with combined assets of R$81 billion and net equity of R$43 billion in the same month. The market capitalization of the three public companies totaled R$37 billion at the beginning of this year. Corsan’s stock offering, a privatization on the stock exchange, may raise R$1 billion.

“Corsan will be the first opportunity of this new cycle to enter the sector through the stock exchange. The basic sanitation market has many gains to be extracted, and there is a lack of companies to invest in, so Corsan can be a vehicle for a future expansion across Brazil,” Fábio Abrahão, head of infrastructure, concessions and public–private partnership at the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), told Valor last month.

According to the new regulatory framework, from July 2020, the companies will have to provide drinking water to 99% of the population and sewage collection and treatment to 90% by December 31, 2033, which would finally take the country out of its secular backwardness in this sector. Since the approval of the framework, at least R$42.2 billion have been guaranteed by the companies that participated in the auctions organized by the federal government, including that for Rio de Janeiro-based Cedae.

Basic sanitation will be a highlight, credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings said, but it is part of a broader spectrum of the role of infrastructure in attracting investments in the coming years, which goes beyond short-term issues such as elections.

“Infrastructure investors are not short term. Infrastructure is a very deficient field, and taking on this risk is actually taking on Brazil risk,” said Julyana Yokota, an infrastructure analyst at S&P.

Another important road for capital inflow in the communications infrastructure is the fifth-generation mobile network (5G). The auction held in early November will bring R$47.2 billion, according to the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel), considering fixed concession payments and investments to be made over the term of the contracts.

As expected, Brazil’s largest operators – América Móvil’s Claro, Telefónica and Telecom Italia’s TIM – had a prominent role, but the market will also have new players, which brings more money to the table. Of the 15 bidders, 12 bought frequency blocks, 7 of which are newcomers.

One is Ceará-based Brisanet, which won three lots. A few months earlier, the company went public and raised R$1.25 billion, most of it earmarked for network expansion, according to the prospectus of the IPO.

Mining and steelmaking will continue to have a substantial weight this year – on the stock exchange, trade balance and investments. Vale, Brazil’s largest exporter, set aside $5.8 billion for this year, up 7.4% year-over-year. The mining company’s projection, made in a meeting with analysts in late November, is to maintain capital expenditures around $5 billion to $6 billion per year. The forecast is to reach, by the end of next year, 370 million tonnes of iron ore production capacity, which may recover the levels of demand and price seen in the first half of last year if a Chinese recovery comes after the pandemic comes to an end.

CSN Mineração expects a balanced world iron ore market in 2022, with reduced restrictions on steel production in China and a small increase in supply. The investment planned for this year, about R$5 billion, is 70% higher than that of 2021.

In a meeting with investors in early December, chief financial officer Pedro Oliva said he expects ore to be traded between $100 and $120 a tonne this year. At the peak of what was seen as a new commodities boom at some point, the price was over $200.

In the steel industry, prices are expected to remain at levels much higher than recent years, even with the adjustments already put in place, said Luis Fernando Martinez, executive director at CSN, at the same event. The steelmaker foresees investments of R$4.1 billion this year, up from R$2.8 billion in 2021.

Competitor Gerdau foresees capacity increase investments in Brazil of $500 million starting in 2024. This year, the company will invest $130 million in the North American operations and $140 million in specialty steel.

(André Ramalho, Rafael Rosas and Ana Paula Machado contributed to this story.)

Source: Valor international


January 10, 2022


Commodities are grabbing an increasing share of exports across nationwide. In all regions, products related to agribusiness or the extractive industries ended the year dominating foreign sales. Soybeans have become the champion of shipments in ten states, crude oil or oil products are in the lead in three federative units and iron ore is now the main product exported in three others.

According to data from the Secretariat of Foreign Trade (Secex), the share of the manufacturing industry in Brazilian exports shrank to 51.3% in 2021 from 63% in 2010. This category also covers agribusiness products that undergo some type of industrial processing, such as meat, pulp and refined sugar.

Even São Paulo, Brazil’s most industrialized state, has its export basket led by commodities. Sugar ($5.6 billion last year) and crude oil ($4.3 billion) — whose production has soared in recent years because of the pre-salt layer — are the two goods most sold abroad. Embraer aircraft, the first purely industry item, came in third and contributed $2.3 billion.

In Paraná, passenger vehicle — which come at the front among manufactured goods outside agribusiness or extractive industry — are only the eighth most exported product. Also in eighth are shoes in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Both states had soybeans as a prominent product in 2021.

For economist Paulo Gala, professor at the School of Economics at Fundação Getulio Vargas, the fact that the Brazilian map is now dominated by commodities allows for two thoughts. First: no state manages to have a sufficiently sophisticated exports agenda to have highly technological products — instead of grains, oil or minerals — as sales champions. Second: the Brazilian industry is predominantly focused on the domestic market and still lacks greater global competitiveness.

In his view, only a few micro-regions of the country — around cities like Campinas, Piracicaba (both in São Paulo), Caxias do Sul (Rio Grande do Sul) and Betim (Minas Gerais) — managed to transform themselves into “islands” of innovation and productivity, with leading industries. No wonder, he adds, they are among the municipalities with the highest per capita income.

“Only a few hubs have sophisticated export-oriented industries driving the local economy, but these hubs don’t come to dominate a entire state,” Mr. Gala said. “What brings jobs, income and reduced inequality is the production of complex goods. They require research and development, technology, patents. Embraer, WEG and Marcopolo are counterexamples of our incapacity for commercial insertion in the world,” he said.

According to the professor, not even the weakened real since the beginning of 2020 has been enough to avoid the loss of space of the industry in exports, compared to agribusiness and mineral extraction. “The weakened real helps price competitiveness, not quality competitiveness. The real exchange rate is at its lowest level in the last 20 years, but we need a much heavier science and technology policy and industrial stimulus,” he said.

The domination of commodities has intensified, said José Augusto de Castro, head of the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB). He estimates the deficit in manufactured products at $70 billion to $80 billion. On Monday, Secex unveiled a record balance of $61 billion in the balance of trade last year – obviously counting all kinds of products, not only those related to industry.

In his view, Brazil is now excessively dependent on three products (soy, oil and iron ore), which represent around 40% of total shipments, and on a single market (China) that buys 32% of our exports.

“In the 1980s, people complained a lot about the dependence on the United States, but the American market absorbed around 25% of Brazilian exports and there was more product diversification. At that time, eight of the ten main export items were manufactured goods. Now, the top 15 are commodities.”

In descending order, the 15 main products sold by Brazil last year were: iron ore, soybeans, crude oil, refined sugar, beef, soybean meal, fuel oils, chicken meat, pulp, semi-finished products or ingots of iron and steel, coffee, gold, corn, cotton and copper.

Therefore, Mr. Castro links the recent trade balance surpluses to the favorable price environment, not to the support of public policies. “The Brazil cost is still very high and the government has ended Reintegra [a program that reimburses companies for part of the taxes paid along the production chain], in addition to having reduced resources for financing exports, under Proex.”

Source: Valor international

January 10, 2022


The acquisition of Banco Modal by XP Inc. brings to the financial group founded by Guilherme Benchimol R$30.4 billion in assets under custody, 501,400 active clients and a portfolio line of credit of R$606.8 million, data from the third-quarter results show. It may seem little for XP, which was already near R$800 billion under its umbrella, with 3.3 million active clients and R$8.6 billion in collateralized credit operations. But far from being a negligible step in the consolidation of the investment market in Brazil, XP’s bid can be considered a masterstroke.

With the countless agreements closed by Modal, such as the sale of up to 35% of its capital to Credit Suisse in mid-2020, the digital bank was one competitor with the potential to cause problems to XP. In the premium segment, which serves customers with at least R$300,000 in assets, Modal had been offering asset allocation with the Credit Suisse brand. Modal’s mobile application made available 28 exclusive funds from the Swiss group’s private banking in Brazil and the plan was to reach 40 in the first quarter of 2022.

In a meeting with investors in mid-December, Modal CEO Cristiano Ayres said that more than just a pretty name, the presence of Credit Suisse was the way to offer financial advice similar to what is done with large fortunes. The relationship with the Swiss group also paved the way for Modal to take part in the syndicate of banks in capital market operations and distribute assets originated by the firm to its retail base.

The foreign partner’s seal of approval also helps draw independent and professional brokerage firms to the platform, Mr. Ayres said. Modal had been moving forward in this distribution channel since the acquisition of the research company Eleven, which already had relationships with several asset management firms, including competitors.

Another front in which Modal had been investing was in the so-called “B2B2C,” in which it offered financial services to various partners. It already had agreements with companies such as Rappi, Dotz and Conta Black.

Acquisitions made by Modal to create an “ecosystem of financial well-being” are also in line with the businesses where XP demarcated its territory, including financial education and training of professionals, whether in investments or technology.

Source: Valor international

January 11, 2022


At least four renewable power companies are for sale in Brazil, attracting the interest of groups and asset management companies, including from overseas. The two main assets — Ibitu and Rio Energy — are valued at R$12 billion, according to sources. Other businesses on the block are Renova Energia, which divested projects in 2021 and may sell others in the judicial recovery plan, and EDP Renováveis, with an open strategy of asset rotation.

With the increased global demand for clean energy, renewable companies in Brazil have become the target of interest from international investors. A survey by Itaú BBA, conducted at Valor’s request, shows that 22 deals were closed in the sector last year, with a business value of R$16 billion. For this year, the estimate is to reach R$20 billion.

Part of the recent investments made in the sector came from private equity funds (which buy stakes in companies) that now want to get out of the business. “Project development groups sell assets to recycle capital to invest in other projects,” said Gustavo Miranda, head of investment banking at Santander.

Put up for sale in the middle of last year, Ibitu, controlled by the American asset manager Castlelake, has wind and hydroelectric assets in Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Piauí, Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais — with more than 877 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity.

The renewable power company originated from the assets of Queiroz Galvão Energia, when the group went into financial crisis amid the now questioned anti-corruption task force Car Wash and put subsidiaries under judicial reorganization. The American private equity fund Castlelake bought the power subsidiary’s debt and took over the business.

With multibillion expansion plans for the business, Castlelake began to be harassed by funds and hired BTG Pactual and Credit Suisse to find an interested party for its assets, valued between $900 million and $1 billion.

Another target is Rio Energy. After giving up on making an IPO last year, the company controlled by U.S.-based private equity firm Denham Capital hired Bank of America (BofA) and Itaú BBA to sell its business, sources familiar with the matter say.

Rio Energy has three operational wind farms totaling nearly 485 MW in installed capacity in Bahia and Ceará, besides two wind farms in Bahia and one in Ceará expected to start in 2022. This is not the first time the company has negotiated the sale of its business. After dropping out of the IPO, the company is once again looking for a buyer. The assets are valued at around R$6 billion.

Another company that may sell assets in 2022 is Renova Energia. In judicial reorganization since 2020, the company sold Brasil PCH for R$1.1 billion and its stake in the Serra da Prata Hydroelectric Complex to settle part of its debt in the market. The power generating company still has a debt of around R$2 billion and is expected to continue divesting assets.

The Alto Sertão III wind farm, in Bahia, will remain with the company. However, the company still has 16 projects in development with leasing contracts, and 12 of these areas already have a previous environmental permit for the development of wind farms, which makes these areas eligible. The areas are located in Bahia, Paraíba, Pernambuco and Piauí, and have a generation potential of around 3.62 GW. The company is studying which one will be sold.

One of the main countries drawing investments in this segment, Brazil is on the radar of investors, since it has natural resources, lower costs and stable regulation. Furthermore, excluding the Unite States and Europe, funds from around the world do not find large platforms for investments in this sector.

“Brazil combines a large market and regulatory stability for renewable power generation,” said Alexandre Viana, a partner and head of consulting at Thymos. A practical example of this is that Brazil is once again on EDP’s radar. Last year, EDP Brasil acquired 100% of AES Inova and made partnerships in the viability of large-scale solar plants. CEO João Marques da Cruz often says that the company’s strategy involves the sale of operational assets to finance new investments.

The generation arm, EDP Renováveis, has Brazil in its 2021-2025 horizon. With global installed capacity of more than 12.6 GW, the goal is to reach 20 GW of capacity by 2025. The devaluation of the Brazilian currency is another point that made the assets cheaper and may draw the attention of international players. The already weakened real can fall even more and some analysts say the foreign exchange rate may reach R$6 to the dollar this quarter. The company put up for sale a hydroelectric plant in Espírito Santo and two others in Amapá. Pipeline, Valor’s business website, first reported last year that the assets of EDP, Ibitu and Rio Energy were put up for sale.

Consultants heard by Valor believe that wind and solar will remain as leaders of this business in 2022, because these sources are the pillar of growth in terms of profitability, scale and consolidated industry.

In addition, the ESG agenda linked to these sources and the learning curve that has cheapened the price of megawatt-hours has drawn the attention of players who want to diversify their operations, from companies seeking long-term risk management to oil companies.

The privatization drive has not progressed as the government says it wanted, but the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) announced that the stock offering of the state-owned company will be launched in mid-March. After that, the federal government will no longer hold 72.33% of the voting capital and will be diluted in the total capital of the company. The expectation is that the government’s stake will fall to 45% and that it will no longer be the majority shareholder in the power company. That situation would likely draw investors, from individuals to corporations.

Mr. Viana, with Thymos, added that the opening of the free energy market, a segment in which companies with high energy demand can negotiate directly with generation companies and traders, will probably drive mergers and acquisitions in Brazil. The BNDES and the Banco do Nordeste (BNB), major players that finance expansion projects in the electricity sector, want to develop projects in the free market and in renewable power.

Other operations have been going on since 2021 and are likely to materialize this year. One is the merger between the energy assets of Votorantim Energia and the Canadian pension fund CPPI, which is expected to create one of the largest energy groups, Nova VTRM, valued at R$15 billion and owner of a number of renewable generation assets and control of Cesp. The company received an investment of R$1.5 billion from CPPI for expansion that can be done in greenfield and acquisitions.

Denham Capital, EDP Renováveis, Ibitu, Renova and Rio Energy declined to comment. Castlelake did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Source: Valor international

January 12, 2022


Given the increase in demand for cloud services and the expected improvement of the structure of Chinese providers in Brazil, companies specializing in building large data centers in the country, such as Ascenty, Equinix, Odata, Scala, say that 2021 was a year of high demand and 2022 will be no different.

Besides the increase in the structures of large U.S.-based providers (AWS, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and others), which contract operations in the interior of São Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro, the expansion plans include projections for operations of Chinese giants.

Huawei, which began offering cloud services in Brazil in 2016 using the structure of phone carrier Vivo before having its own data centers in 2019, is a client of companies that build data centers in the country. Huawei has two data centers in the city of São Paulo and has expansion plans for 2022. “We have an aggressive expansion plan, but we cannot unveil this to the market yet,” the company told Valor.

Tencent, one of the largest internet service providers in the world – owner of video game developer Riot Games, famous for the title League of Legends – opened its first cloud center in the country in November. Then, the Chinese company said that the data center in São Paulo will serve companies in Brazil and in other Latin American countries as part of a global network of Tencent Cloud’s data centers with footprint in 27 regions.

Brazil is also in sight of Alibaba’s cloud division. Sources say the country is key for Alibaba Cloud, which currently operates in 70 countries, including two data center infrastructures in the East and West coasts of the United States, but has no operations in Latin America.

Alibaba, China’s main provider of computing cloud infrastructure as a service, held the third largest share of the world market in 2020 (9.5%), data by consultancy Gartner show. The first one, AWS, held 40.8% of the market, followed by Microsoft with 19.2%. Huawei debuted in the ranking of the five largest providers in 2020, in the fifth position, with a 4.2% share, behind Google, the fourth place, with 6.1%.

Alibaba’s plans, however, have no date yet. The group operates in the country through online marketplace AliExpress and, more recently, through logistics company Cainiao, which started to meet AliExpress demands locally last year.

After the rush for business digitalization at the beginning of the pandemic, 2021 was a year of consolidation and expansion of projects, which raised the demand for outsourced data centers. “Companies’ digitization drive consolidated in 2021,” said Eduardo Carvalho, general director in Brazil at Equinix. “Despite the economy and the market, all market segments increased investments in cloud computing last year,” he said.

Companies’ data and applications migration to the cloud also reflects the search for cost reduction with machine maintenance, space to expand their operations and the concern with network resilience. “I visited a customer in the region of Avenida Paulista, in São Paulo, who put big servers in the office reception because he handled all the data infrastructure internally, but ran out of space,” said Marcos Siqueira, chief operating officer at Ascenty.

The company, which has the largest number of active data centers in the country – 18 since its foundation in 2010 – invested R$160 million to open two data centers in Hortolândia (São Paulo) and Rio de Janeiro. This year, it will open its fifth data center in Hortolândia.

To create resilience zones, with more than one data center as a safe haven, the expansion of Brazilian data centers has been concentrated in cities near the city of São Paulo, such as Barueri and Osasco, and the nearby countryside, such as Hortolândia, Vinhedo and Santana de Parnaíba.

Source: Valor international

January 13, 2022


Brazilian companies raised R$596bn in domestic capital market in 2021, an all-time high

The Brazilian capital market had a landmark year. Companies in the country raised R$596 billion in 2021 considering equity, bonds and hybrid instruments, up 60% year over year and the highest amount since records began, said Anbima, the association of securities firms.

The companies also raised $24.8 billion abroad, down 4.7% year over year. Considering funds raised locally and abroad, Brazilian companies got R$734 billion.

In variable income, companies issued R$128.1 billion, which was not higher than the nominal result of 2010, of R$150.3 billion. However, the figure of 11 years ago includes a one-off move by oil giant Petrobras, which raised R$120.3 billion.

In fixed income and hybrid instruments, companies raised R$467.9 billion in 2021. This is another record. The bond market alone totaled R$253.4 billion, more than double that of 2020.

Embraer sells subsidiaries in Portugal to Aernnova Aerospace for $172m

Embraer unveiled on Wednesday that it has sold two subsidiaries in Portugal, Embraer Portugal Estruturas Metálicas (EEM) and Embraer Portugal Estruturas empósitos (EEC), to Spain’s Aernnova Aerospace for $172 million. Both companies supply components used in aircraft manufacture and, after the closing of the deal, scheduled for the first quarter, they will continue to supply parts to Embraer.

The sale is neutral for the company, says Citi. The bank questions whether the company has not created unnecessary complexity. Citi has a neutral recommendation for Embraer, with a $17.50 price target for American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Via buys logistics startup CNT

Via, owner of Casas Bahia and Ponto, announced the acquisition of 100% of the capital stock of the logistics startup CNT, which specializes in complete offers for e-commerce operations, according to a statement to the market. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

According to Via, the transaction value consists of a fixed and a variable portion, with the fixed portion implying a multiple of about 0.20 times the gross volume of goods (GMV) in 2021. The variable part is conditioned to the achievement of performance targets and the permanence of CNT’s main executives at the head of the business.

CNT is specialized in complete offers for e-commerce operations, multi marketplace and platforms in the “plug & play” model, and have been operating for 11 years in the provision of complete logistics services (fulfillment) and for four years in services in e-commerce (full commerce).

Source: Valor international


January 14, 2022


Brazilian exports grew 34% year over year in value in 2021, more than offsetting the 5% loss reported in the previous year. The growth led to a record shipment of $280.6 billion last year, but had uneven distribution by destinations. The increase in shipments was almost all directed to China, which grabbed a larger share of Brazilian exports compared with before the pandemic. The Chinese share of the values shipped by Brazil rose to 31.3% last year from 28.7% in 2019. Asia as a whole advanced four percentage points in the same period, reaching 46% in 2021.

Exports to the United States, European Union and South America also grew last year compared with 2019, but at a lower rate than China’s 38,5% rise over the same period or than the average of Brazilian shipments, according to federal government data. With this, the American share in the value of Brazilian exports fell to 11.1% from 13.4%. The European Union had a small reduction, to 13% from 13.6%, but now holds the lowest share since official records began, in 1997. South America’s share shrunk to 12.1% from 12.6%. This is not the lowest share ever because last year, as the region’s economy suffered more due to the pandemic, its share was 10.8%.

The Foreign Trade Indicator (Icomex), which is surveyed by Fundação Getulio Vargas’s Brazilian Institute of Economics (FGV/Ibre) and considers the volume alone, excluding the price effect, shows growth in shipments to China. Even as there were slowdowns or even falls in some periods, the survey suggests that shipments to China are on the rise considering data since 2008, said Lia Valls, a research associate at Ibre. The volume exported by Brazil to the Asian country grew more than 360% in 2021 versus 2008, the Icomex shows. On the other hand, the volume shipped to the United States fell 18.6%, while exports to Argentina and the European Union dropped 30% and 28%, respectively, in the same comparison.

It is important to highlight the effect of volumes, Ms. Valls said, because the value shipped by Brazil last year grew predominantly by the price factor, driven by key items like agricultural and metal commodities. Iron ore had a prominent role. Still according to Icomex, the average price of exports rose 29.3% year over year in 2021. In volume, shipments increased at a much slower pace, 3.2%.

Structural and cyclical issues explain Asia’s largest share in Brazilian exports, said Livio Ribeiro, a researcher at Ibre and a partner at BRCG Economic Consultants. “The most structural issue is that we are developing an export agenda that is very complementary to the Asian value chain. This is true for China, which leads many of the region’s productive processes, but it includes other countries on the continent, such as Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and even Indonesia,” he said. That’s why the increase in export value in 2021 was not evenly distributed among the blocs, according to him. “About 90% of that margin went almost entirely to China.”

Brazil’s tariff structure for exports to the European Union, Mr. Ribeiro compares, is not very different from China, considering the prominent role of agricultural and metal commodities. “But Asia has been buying the incremental [volume], and this makes sense when you consider that China and Asia have been growing above the global average and the eurozone countries have been growing less than the United States.”

The long-term path in volumes follows similar logic, Ms. Valls said. The European Union has had much lower growth than Asia and the United States since the 2008 financial crisis, she recalled. The picture is similar to the recovery seen over the past year, after the first cycle of the pandemic, Mr. Ribeiro said, which is already the broader factor of the scenario, as Asia overcame the health crisis more quickly with the first variants of Covid-19 and resumed economic growth with more vigor.

In relation to South America, the Argentina factor weighs the most. For economists, there is no prospect of a faster recovery in the values exported to the region if there is no more sustained recovery of the Argentine economy over time. At the same time, Mr. Ribeiro said, there is also a reorganization of the automotive sector, with many factories settled in Argentina, which does not favor Brazil.

Source: Valor International

January 17, 2022


The free power market, a segment in which consumers with high demand negotiate directly with generation companies and traders, may generate R$6.3 billion in investments in 10 years to draw customers, a projection by consultancy Thymos Energia made at Valor’s request shows.

The cost for companies to draw consumers who want to migrate from the regulated market to the free power market is higher than R$1,000, the consultancy said. However, the value is expected to fall to only R$100 as a result of a digitalization drive.

The calculation is based on the number of potential consumers that can migrate from the regulated market to the free market. In Brazil, there are about 87 million consumers. However, Alexandre Viana, a partner and head of consulting at Thymos, believes that about 63 million will change to the free market.

“The cost of drawing customers multiplied by the number of consumers who can migrate to the free market is equal to R$6.3 billion in investments in 10 years, excluding other injections that may come from generation and services,” he said.

The consultancy’s survey outlines a conservative, a baseline and an aggressive scenarios for electricity consumption and projects that the free power market will account for almost 73% of the total load of the National Interconnected System (SIN) in 2035, compared with 35.4% now.

This scenario takes into account that as of 2024 the free market will open fully to all consumers of high voltage, as proposed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), and THAT in 2026 the opening follows for low-voltage consumers.

“In 2035, this curve will stop growing because low income, public services and rural [clients] will have more difficulty migrating and will remain in the regulated market,” Mr. Viana said.

Bills in Congress on the modernization of the electric sector and regulations can speed up the migration of consumers, the executive added.

As for businesses, some power trading companies no longer want to only buy and sell energy and are expanding their operations by offering services to consumers and generation companies.

This is the case of 2W. With an eye on the liberalization of the market, the company is increasing the supply of renewable power to sell on the free market with the construction of two wind power farms, and has set aside funds for the acquisition of new customers.

“We see a more liberal market in the second half of this decade. For this, it is key to have generation assets so that we are not in the middle of the chain having to buy power from a generation company to sell it to the customer…We have R$150 million for customer acquisition cost to be able to tap the market and sell electricity from these farms,” CEO Claudio Ribeiro said.

Tradener follows a similar path. The company sells about 800 average megawatts and serves between 20% and 30% of its customer portfolio with its own generation. CEO Walfrido Avila said that the investment relies on better market conditions.

“We have 400 MW of projects, but we will do this in tandem with the economy. The interest rates are very high right now. This is bad for financing and this hinders investments,” he said.

For Alexandre Lopes, vice-president of the Brazilian Association of Power Trading Companies (Abraceel), this is a trend since the sector has been driving competitiveness in companies for more than 20 years and the expansion of the electric system.

“The free market has become the flagship of the expansion of electric power generation in Brazil, responsible for more than 70% of the plants under construction, mainly of renewable origin, aligned with national public policy and the global energy transition.”

Source: Valor International

January 17, 2022


The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) will invest up to R$2.5 billion in infrastructure funds, which will be selected through a competitive process. The state-owned bank opens a call for proposals this Monday to choose up to five funds. A maximum of R$500 million will be allocated to each of them. The bank expects, however, to draw at least R$5 billion more from the private sector through the effort.

Asset managers interested in receiving funds will have until March 4 to submit their proposals. The choice will be made by the bank, which will evaluate the fund’s investment thesis, governance and costs, as well as the manager and the team involved. The selection is expected to be concluded by the first half of this year.

It is a new investment mechanism of the bank. “The BNDES’s central objective is to increase its instruments for operating in infrastructure. We already have direct investments, financing, and now we want to allocate resources through funds,” said Bruno Laskowsky, head of shareholding, capital market and indirect credit at BNDES.

The plan is to boost both debt funds, destined to finance projects and companies, and equity funds, which will directly invest in the capital of the businesses. Of the five chosen, up to two will be debt funds and three equity funds.

The BNDES will give priority to investments in basic sanitation and urban mobility, segments that have a greater social impact. There is also a preference for funds from institutional investors (who manage third-party money) and with criteria for measuring social and environmental impact.

Mr. Laskowsky highlights two other focuses sought by the BNDES. The first is “project finance” operations, that is, in which the project is capable of “self-financing,” providing its cash flow as a guarantee. “We want to privilege the risk-taking of the project, and not necessarily the risk of the larger guarantor.”

The second goal is to lengthen the term of the loans. “We are looking for structures that follow the long-term timing of infrastructure projects, which is more like 15, 20 years, while the term of bank loans in general is 7, 8 years,” he said.

For this, the idea is that the funds are closed-end, with a minimum term of eight years, and up to 15 years (equity funds) and 20 years (debt funds), said Filipe Borsato, head of fund investments at BNDES. “The idea is, in the short term, to serve these companies and projects benefited, but also, in the long term, to bring institutional investors to the country and give them more security to put funds into infrastructure projects in Brazil,” he said.

The idea is for the BNDES to be a “relevant minority shareholder” in these funds, and for the allocation decision – that is, which projects or companies will receive the investments – to be made by the private-sector manager, the executives highlight.

“The choice of specific projects will be made by private-sector managers, not by the BNDES. Typically, the term for the allocation of funds is three to six years, so the benefited projects will be structured and selected over the next few years. It is not something thought out for the projects of 2022,” Mr. Borsato said.

For this reason, the fact that the process takes place in an election year will not be a problem, and potential changes in the bank’s direction is not a concern, Mr. Laskowsky said.

“We are talking about 15, 20-year projects. This goes beyond any administration. And the country has a huge gap in infrastructure. The math done when it comes to thinking about investments is: there are people prepared to execute the works, there are good project structurers, there is financing and there is demand. These factors are not trivial. Stability helps a lot, of course, but the central theme here is not electoral volatility,” he said.

As for BNDESPar the move is part of its “capital recycling” process, Mr. Laskowsky said. Since 2019, the development bank’s equity arm has been disposing of its shares in companies such as meatpacker JBS, paper and pulp maker Klabin and mining giant Vale, among others. The idea, the executive said, is to rebuild the portfolio having as guidelines innovation, environmental and social impact.

The investment in infrastructure funds will be a first experience in this investment model, which may be extended to other areas of BNDES’s operations. “This is the first call. We will understand how the process will work out. But one possibility is to give guidance, which could be annual, biannual, or triennial, and the bank will make subsequent calls in different strategic sectors, not just infrastructure,” he said.

Source: Valor International

January 25, 2022


The country’s steel industry ended 2021 with strong growth in volume of crude steel produced, domestic sales and apparent consumption, as expected, despite the sharp deceleration of indicators in the last month of the year. The data are from the Instituto Aço Brasil, which represents steelmakers.

In a year marked by strong domestic demand until July and an increase in exports in the second half of the year, steelmakers in the country produced 36 million tonnes of crude steel, up 14.7% from 2020. In rolled products, the sector reached 26 million tonnes, up 19.3% year over year.

The performance was also robust in domestic sales, which totaled 22.4 million tonnes, up 15% year over year. In the year of the pandemic, the sector was impacted in the second quarter, but saw strong steel sales from July onwards.

Also with a record, since 2013, apparent consumption (local sales plus imports) of steel products totaled 26.4 million tonnes, up 23.2% year over year.

Faced with a heated market and difficulties in meeting all demand from local mills, imports of finished material grew by 144% in the year, totaling 5 million tonnes.

With an increase in steel production and an accommodation of domestic demand – which was supplied from the middle of the year with domestic supply and the entry of foreign material –, exports rose and ended the year up 3.9%, totaling 11 million tonnes. Benefited from higher steel prices in the international market, they generated $9.3 billion.

In December, indicators focused on the domestic market lost steam due to macroeconomic uncertainties as of September: in the production of crude steel (-11.4%), rolled products (-16.8%), domestic sales (-24.7 %) and apparent consumption (-17.3%). Exports, on the other hand, gained momentum, with an expansion of 74.9% —1.3 million tonnes. Imports continued to expand, with 309,000 tonnes (up 49.9%). Sources say there is still a lot of steel in the ports waiting to be cleared.

Source: Valor International


January 25, 2022


The Brazilian government has amended immigration rules to grant temporary visas to professionals working remotely in a bid to attract well-paid individuals to contribute to the country’s economy.

Announced today (24), the measures establish an initial one-year visa, which can be renewed for an equal period. According to justice secretary and head of the National Immigration Council, José Vicente Santini, the new regulations are expected to boost local tourism and respond to global trends.

“Digital nomads’ salaries come from external sources, and the resources these immigrants bring can boost the national economy. This is an important step for Brazil to promote one of the world’s most modern working models,” he said.

Professionals can apply for the digital nomad visa at any Brazilian consular office, presenting proof of their remote worker status and documents such as an employment contract with an international organization and health insurance and evidence of availability means of subsistence in Brazil.

On the other hand, the increase of Brazilian remote workers taking up jobs with foreign employers has been a concern for the sector. The Federation of Associations of Brazilian Information Technology Companies (Assespro) launched a manifesto today calling for public policies to prevent a “labor blackout” of skilled tech professionals.

According to the trade body, the growing demand for IT experts globally and the acceleration of remote working has contributed to many experienced professionals being hired by companies abroad, without having to emigrate, in a phenomenon described as a “virtual brain drain”.

The association warned that best available estimates indicate that Brazil’s shortage of skilled professionals is expected to grow to 450,000 within three years. It added that the lack of strategies and policies from central government to support innovation and skills creation has been discussed since 2018. Still, the scenario remains unchanged in terms of strategy, while execution has become increasingly unviable due to the various budget cuts suffered by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in recent years.

Stressing the real possibility that Brazil may lose a significant amount of its technology experts to employers overseas, Assespro urged government leaders to “urgently unite to implement public policies that prevent this catastrophic situation.” It added the issue of skills shortages is the greatest challenge the sector has faced in the trade body’s 45-year history.

“Innovation processes arise from the existence of problems. Given the size of this problem, however, the collective action of all the actors involved is essential”, the manifesto noted.

Source: NewsNow


January 31, 2022


In a new drive of investments in the port sector, at least 30 Private Use Terminal (TUP) projects were authorized in 2021 or are being analyzed by port regulator Antaq for authorization in 2022, unlocking contributions of up to R$9.5 billion.

For the Association of Private Port Terminals (ATP), which carried out the survey based on public calls and publications in the Daily Gazette, this proves the preference of many investors for this type of expansion in the sector.

TUPs are necessarily outside organized ports — those managed by dock companies or by state administrations — and have more flexible regulation than the leases of public areas. In the past decade, they had a 38% growth. Today, they handle about two-thirds of port cargo in Brazil, mainly minerals and fuel.

Among the new projects under analysis with chances of signing contracts with the Ministry of Infrastructure in 2022, are two large undertakings. One is Nordeste Logística, on an 83-hectare plot in Pecém (state of Ceará), with four terminals planned — for ore, grains, fertilizers, and containers. Investments of around R$2.35 billion are expected.

Another project that draws attention in the sector is Porto Guará, neighboring Paranaguá (state of Paraná), whose plan also involves the movement of different types of cargo. The request to Antaq mentions disbursements of R$3.85 billion.

Both have already gone through a public call – a process in which the agency opens a period of 30 days for the manifestation of any interested parties in building a TUP in the same geographic region – and are awaiting authorization. For this, it is necessary to have at least a term of reference issued by federal environmental agency Ibama for the preparation of environmental impact studies and land regularizations, as well as the absence of tax pending issues.

“Investor interest is greater in private terminals than in leases within organized ports,” says ATP president Murillo Barbosa. “No one has to wait for the government’s goodwill to conduct bidding processes. The private terminal has more flexibility. It can choose the location and type of cargo. It does not need to comply with the development and zoning plan of the public port.”

In 2013, with the new Ports Law, the requirement for new private terminals to predominantly handle their own cargo was dropped. Thus, the movement of third-party cargo was allowed. According to Mr. Barbosa, the number of authorized TUPs soared to 253 today from 124 that year.

In the calculations of the Ministry of Infrastructure, which are different from those used by ATP, the number of private terminals currently awaiting authorization reaches 53 projects and provides for investments of R$38.8 billion. “The government is no longer hampering investment. The investor’s challenge becomes environmental licensing and the economic viability of the project. It’s up to him to decide,” says the national secretary of Ports, Diogo Piloni.

In fact, however, many authorized projects die out along the way or remain undefined for years because of environmental restrictions or lack of capital for the works. Projects such as the Alcântara Port Terminal (state of Maranhão), Petrocity (state of Espírito Santo), and Porto Sul de Ilhéus (Bahia) disclose figures of billions of reais, but have not yet considered financing or have not yet obtained a prior environmental license.

For consultant Frederico Bussinger, managing partner at Katalysis consultancy and former president of the Port of São Sebastião, one of the most important factors for the success of a TUP project is the cargo guarantee. Therefore, according to him, terminals associated with the owner’s own production chain tend to start operating more easily. This has been the case, for example, with new facilities for the outflow of grain by groups such as Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, in the so-called Arco Norte.

In Mr. Bussinger’s assessment, the difficulty is significantly greater for structures that intend to move different cargoes that are unrelated to the business itself. There are still few successful cases, such as Porto do Açu (state of Rio de Janeiro) or Portonave (Santa Catarina), in creating private ports that handle third-party containers or cargo. “With a guaranteed cargo, the money appears quickly.”

Given the ease with which Antaq’s approval to build TUPs can be obtained, says Mr. Bussinger, permits often become a kind of “government bond”, and applicants only then go after real investors.

Despite the growth trend of TUPs, companies complain about recent attempts to increase regulation on an activity that is entirely private. A group of industry associations even overturned in court, in 2019, Antaq’s resolution that created a system for monitoring prices charged by its customers’ terminals.

The end of Reporto, a tax regime that made investments in ports and railways cheaper, whose recreation was barred by President Jair Bolsonaro in January, is also much criticized. Murillo Barbosa, with ATP, says that the absence of the benefit makes the value of a portainer (a type of crane used for loading and unloading containers) rise to $15 million from around $11 million.

Even with many advertised terminals having difficulties materializing, Mr. Piloni says that TUPs are already the main growth vector in the sector. “For every R$1 in investments effectively executed in port leases, we had R$3 in private terminals in 2021.

Source: Valor International