By Dominic Elliott
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Brazil’s corporate squad pales beside its soccer stars. The country’s national football side has unquestioned world-class quality in almost every position on the pitch. Yet if there were a World Cup for businesses, Brazil would struggle to get past the group stage.
“A Seleção”, as Brazil’s soccer team is known, has won the sport’s biggest prize a record five times. Its skill on the ball is described by the exhortation “joga bonito” - “play beautifully”. Brazil has some corporate champions that are both skilled and strong. But it’s doubtful the world’s seventh-largest economy could field a world-beating team of corporate stars.
Several Brazilian companies can hold their own against the world’s best. That’s especially true in finance. In a soccer team, lender Itaú, buyout specialist 3G Capital, and investment bank BTG Pactual could comprise a menacing front line.
Brazil would surely place Ambev, its largest listed company, at the heart of its midfield. Though the $115 billion brewer is technically a subsidiary of Belgium-listed Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company’s management is dominated by Brazilians. So is AB InBev’s board. It includes two of the three principals at 3G, who together with Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man, created Ambev in 1999.