Latin America & Caribbean

Founder of Latin American engineering giant Odebrecht dies

Sao Paulo stadium built by Odebrecht Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Brazil's Sao Paulo Itaquera stadium, which hosted the opening World Cup match, was built by Odebrecht

Brazilian engineer Norberto Odebrecht, who founded of one of Latin America's largest engineering companies, has died at the age of 93.

The company which bears his name is behind some of the continent's most ambitious large-scale projects.

Established in 1944 it has paved a road across the Andes mountains and through the Amazon jungle to Peru.

It also formed a consortium which built four of the 12 stadiums that hosted games for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Odebrecht has also drilled a 19km (12-mile) tunnel to divert a river from the Amazon basin into a dam on the Pacific side of the Andes.


More recently groups in Brazil angry over government spending in the lead up to the World Cup staged protests outside the company's offices in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Odebrecht had come under scrutiny for the billionaire contracts it won to build World Cup stadia.

Norberto took over his father Emilio's small engineering business at the age of 21 and turned it into a construction company.

In the 1960s and 1970s Odebrecht expanded just at the time when Brazil's military government was aiming for high economic growth through investments in massive infrastructure projects.

Based in the north-eastern Brazilian port city of Salvador, Norberto Odebrecht and his family was part of a privileged group of powerful businessmen with strong political contacts at local and national level.

The company has been run by his grandson, Marcelo Odebrecht, since 2008. It has a 200,000-strong workforce and a presence in 23 countries.