2020, a key year for the future of the Odebrecht empire

Immersed in a contest of creditors not yet defined, the Brazilian group Odebrecht faces a key 2020 for its future with a family background mess, while seeking new collaboration agreements with other countries to overcome a history of corruption that contaminated much of Latin America.

Odebrecht will begin to define its delicate financial situation as of January 29, when it is scheduled, after several postponements, the Creditors' Assembly to decide on the restructuring plan.

The conglomerate requested last June the largest bankruptcy contest in Brazil's history with a debt of almost 100,000 million reais ($ 23.9 billion), of which approximately half is renegotiated, forced by multiple corruption scandals, which The doors of the financing market closed.

In parallel, negotiations continue with countries in which it is present to sign agreements in which it confesses the payment of bribes, provides evidence and pays millionaire fines.

It has already done so in Brazil, the United States, Switzerland, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Ecuador - although only in the criminal sphere, the civil one is still missing -, Peru and Guatemala.

He looks for it in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina, but the difficulty is twofold because sometimes the necessary legal framework does not exist and in others the dialogue with governments is difficult.


Negotiations with its largest lenders, among which are the main state banks (BNDES, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Económica Federal) and private ones in the country (Itaú, Bradesco and Santander), continue with a view to presenting a "judicial recovery" plan "satisfactory.

The first version was rejected -Caixa Económica even asked the bankruptcy of the conglomerate for Justice-, which has forced the company to make a new one.

Odebrecht - business conglomerate that includes engineering, construction, chemicals and petrochemicals - is confident that the plan will be approved during the first quarter of this year, according to sources close to the matter.

The approval of the creditors is vital for the survival of the group controlled by Kieppe, holding owned by the Odebrecht family.

One of the hot spots of the negotiations is the petrochemical company Braskem, an important asset of the group that has the state oil company Petrobras as a partner and whose future sale is being a matter of dispute.

Petrobras wants to sell its share of 36% of the capital as soon as possible, which could make it difficult for Odebrecht's negotiations with creditors, which he prefers to wait for the firm to revalue.


In the midst of these complex negotiations, Odebrecht hit the helm in December by changing its president.

Ruy Sampaio replaced Luciano Guidolin. The movement was interpreted as an attempt to cut off the influence of the former president Marcelo Odebrecht, convicted of corruption, today in a semi-open regime after two and a half years in prison and recently fired from the company founded in 1944 by his grandfather Norberto.

Shortly after that change in the direction of the group, emails sent by Marcelo to Odebrecht executives leaked to the press accusing his father, Emilio, patriarch of the group, of leading the group to bankruptcy.

The next day, December 20, Sampaio accused Marcelo in the newspaper Valor Economico of blackmailing the company in search of "money and power."

Hours later, Odebrecht announced the dismissal of Marcelo, who was on payroll with a monthly salary of about 115,000 reais ($ 27,500), according to local press, despite having been removed from his executive duties after his imprisonment in 2015.

The Board of Directors, in which Emilio still has the capacity to influence despite not being part of it, thus accepted the recommendation of dismissal made by the authorities of Brazil and the United States, which closely monitor compliance with the signed collaboration agreement .

Likewise, the Ethics Committee of the organ opened an internal investigation to Marcelo, still ongoing, to find out possible irregularities.


Odebrecht does not comment on this issue and is focused on catching the flight after the corruption scandals he has starred in the Americas.

Construction will continue to be the main pillar of the group, which, once approved the bankruptcy, will execute its plan based on the sale of assets and a sharp reduction in its structure.

The infrastructure division, now called OEC (Odebrecht Engenharia & Construçao), already earned $ 500 million in new projects in 2019.

For this year it expects to invoice 1,200 million dollars with the aim of recovering in 2028 the splendor prior to the "Lava Jato" scandal.

Carlos Meneses Sánchez


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