July 20, 2014 / 2:41 PM / 5 years ago

Founder of Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht dies, paper says

SAO PAULO, July 20 (Reuters) - Norberto Odebrecht, the Brazilian engineer who built a global construction group with interests in petrochemicals, defense and shipbuilding, died on Saturday in the city of Salvador aged 93, local media reported.

His Grupo Odebrecht SA ranks as Latin America’s largest engineering group, with about 100 billion reais ($44 billion) in annual consolidated revenue, more than 200,000 workers and a presence in 23 countries.

O Globo newspaper said that Odebrecht, who died after suffering heart problems, would be buried on Sunday. Grupo Odebrecht did not respond to phone calls or emails from Reuters.

Odebrecht took over his father Emilio’s small engineering business at the age of 21 in the northeastern city of Salvador and transformed it into a construction firm.

During the 1960s and 70s, he expanded its operations across Brazil, Latin America and Africa, where the company built dams and other heavy construction projects.

The group, which plans to invest $20 billion in its expansion between 2013 and 2015, is one of Brazil’s largest companies, and has participated in recent government auctions to operate airports and roads.

Odebrecht’s son Emilio presides over the group’s board, while his grandson Marcelo is its chief executive.

Apart from its construction operations, Odebrecht controls Braskem SA, Latin America’s largest petrochemical firm, offshore oil drilling company Odebrecht Oil & Gas SA and ethanol producer ETH Bionergia. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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