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Executives Samba in Rio

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Local and foreign investors gather in Rio de Janeiro for the World Economic Forum.


BY RICHARD BURNS

RIO DE JANEIRO – The upbeat rhythm of the samba group at a special party organized by the Financial Times and CNBC set the tone for the this year’s World Economic Forum Latin America here.

During the following two days, some 700 business executives gathered in this city to discuss opportunities and challenges, hold private meetings and simply network.

 

The event came as Brazil’s economy continues to move full speed ahead, marking a contrast to the slower economies of the United States and Europe. This year’s event also marked a change from the 2009 World Economic Forum Latin America, which also was held in Rio de Janeiro. Then, the mood was markedly subdued as a result of the global economic crisis.

 

This year’s event boasted such high-fliers as Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit and former UK prime minister Tony Blair. Meanwhile, Latin America heads of various multinationals – from GE and GDF Suez to PepsiCo and British Telecom – also attended.

 

Prominent Latin American executives speaking or attending the event included Diego Hernandez, CEO of Chilean miner Codelco (the world’s largest copper producer); Frederico Fleury Curado, President and CEO of Embraer (the third-largest commercial aircraft company in the world);  Alejandro Ramirez, CEO of Mexican cinema chain Cinepolis; Felipe Jens, CEO of Brazil-based Odebrecht Participações e Investimentos (OPI) and Carlos Fadigas, CEO of Brazil-based Braskem (the largest petrochemical company in the Americas).

 

The World Economic Forum Latin America also drew interest from Asia. Onkar Kanwar, the chairman of Apollo Tyres came, as did his son. Genpact President and CEO Pramod Bhasin attended the event, as did Allen Antao, a vice president with Godrej. Meanwhile, two senior executives with Thai oil giant PTT also made the long journey from Asia to Rio de Janeiro for the event.

 

The forum also featured prominent multilateral or government bankers such as Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American development Bank; Luciano Coutinho, president of Brazil’s development bank BNDES and Fred Hochberg, president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

 

On the political front, the event included the governors of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and several key ministers, but President Dilma Rousseff had to cancel her speech due to a cold.

The forum included various sessions that covered everything from energy, infrastructure and natural resources to corporate social responsibility, drug trafficking and regional governance.

"I think the Latin American World Economic Forum was a great experience from many perspectives,” says Eugenio Paschoal, President and CEO for Marsh Brasil, the local unit of US-based Marsh & McLennan Companies, one of the world's largest insurance brokers. “It is amazing how this event manages the engagement of so many different influential leaders towards sustainable solutions above any personal agenda. This is very powerful and it certainly creates a much more responsible, robust and broader business perspective to all sectors investing in this fast growing region." 

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