Reconstructing Odebrecht

Nov 30, 2007

Brazil's foremost global engineering firm is restructuring itself and spinning off new ventures in energy, agriculture and real estate. Financing expertise will feed its success.

Felipe Jens is telling a roomful of lawyers and bankers in October about how his company, Odebrecht, financed the construction of a Petrobras oilrig. Some in the audience take notes, several contemplate the maze of arrows and boxes that describes the account structure. Others are completely lost.

Jens, who spearheads the engineering company's recently established project finance arm Odebrecht Investimentos em Infraestrutura (OII), spends far more time poring over balance sheets and legal documents than he does wearing a hard hat studying blueprints. His skillset is more akin to an investment banker than an engineer, and he is among the many executives who have helped Odebrecht earn a reputation for sound financial structuring that rivals the name it has for large-scale engineering projects.

"We've noticed that more and more clients are seeking a partner that can bring financing solutions to their projects," Paulo Cesena, CFO of Grupo Odebrecht, the...

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