SAO PAULO/PARIS, June 30 (Reuters) – French retailer Casino
has raised its stake in Grupo Pao de Acucar
(GPA) , as it battles with rival Carrefour
for control of Brazil’s top retailer.
Casino also shuffled assets elsewhere in South America, in
addition to raising its stake in GPA to 43.1 percent from 37
percent after buying 16.1 million preferred shares.
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – After transforming global agriculture by quintupling their soybean production since 1980, Brazilian farmers are now on the brink of crop breakthroughs in cotton and corn, long dominated by growers in America.
Helped by high futures prices and a sustained local agricultural boom, cotton and corn acreage is spreading fast despite being twice as capital intensive as soybean crops.
SAO PAULO, June 7 (Reuters) – Cut costs, or fade away. That was the challenge facing Brazilian sugarcane ethanol producers as they gathered on Tuesday for the second day of a major industry conference and debated ways to ensure that the biofuel lives up to its enormous hype in the coming decade. Ethanol production costs have soared in recent years, but the rise cannot be fully passed along to Brazilian consumers because prices for gasoline at the pump have been essentially held down by the government since 2002. When ethanol prices rise too much, drivers tend to switch to gasoline. That virtual price cap has been a major factor in paralyzing investments since 2008 in the world's No. 2 ethanol producer. Possible solutions being discussed at the summit include the adoption of new industrial and agricultural technologies, such as more productive cane varieties, and greater diversification into areas such as electricity. Foreign oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and others are pouring billions of dollars into Brazil's $30 billion sugar cane industry, essentially betting that the current problems are just growing pains. Yet the cane producers themselves have tended to be much more guarded about the industry's prospects following several years of stagnant supply growth. "I don't want to say gasoline is not a problem but that's not the only reason the sector is in an awkward situation," Ricardo Dornelles, the energy ministry's renewable fuels director, said. "Ethanol production costs surged and if the sector wants to expand exports, it needs competitive prices." <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For a take a look at the summit, see: [ID:nN06264063] Recent deals in ethanol sector: [ID:nN06158835] Brazil cane use: r.reuters.com/myq28r Ethanol vs gasoline graphic: r.reuters.com/daf97r Flex-fuel auto sales: link.reuters.com/maj33m ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> "Reducing costs is the only way of survival," said Plinio Nastari, president at Datagro consultants on the sidelines of the Brazil Ethanol Summit, hosted by Unica industry group. According to Datagro, the sector's average production costs are now equivalent to a FOB raw sugar price of 17.5 cents per lb, from 5.5 cents in 2002. Other problems in the industry have included uneven taxes and the threat of government regulation. [ID:nN06264871] Unless costs come down, and producers resume investing at a faster pace, the sugar cane ethanol industry may be unable to meet demand for the biofuel that is expected to double in Brazil in the coming decade. Ethanol shortages are in the cards for the next few years at least, which means prices will be high and the biofuel will have a tough time competing with gasoline. [ID:nN07151488] It's not just the private sector that is worried. Brazil's government has a lot riding on the industry's success and is concerned over the lack of investment in ethanol production. Officials at the summit have begun articulating new industrial policies that they hope will stimulate output through tax breaks, longer term supply contracts and better credit for stocks and planting. ELECTRICITY POSSIBLE SOLUTION One possible solution touted on the sidelines of the summit is to raise mills' capacity to cogenerate electricity. All Brazilian cane mills produce the energy they use in their own process through the burning of cane bagasse but only some have an energy surplus that can be sold to the grid. This volume could grow exponentially if investments were made to make old equipment more efficient. Although the current price of energy at government auctions does not cover the costs of some projects, practically all mills built in recent years have advanced cogeneration capacity. The investment is not cheap but production costs once the project is implemented are practically zero since all mills have to get rid of tonnes of bagasse every year. "I don't see any new mill being built without efficient energy generation anymore. It's an important cash flow," said Jose Carlos Grubisich, chief executive of ETH, the ethanol and sugar group of construction conglomerate Odebrecht. PIPELINES The state oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA: Quote, Profile, Research) has partnered with several big mills in the ethanol sector such as Cosan (CZZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) to build an ethanol pipeline that will reduce the cost of transporting the fuel, now hauled by truck and railcar. The migration of cane production to other areas of the country, further away from the big centers of consumption such as the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo and the coast, has also raised the sector's costs with logistics, noted Bruno Melcher, chief executive of Louis Dreyfus Commodities. "The pipeline will revolutionize the transport of the fuel from remote production areas to the main domestic and export markets. It should help to cut costs," Nastari said, adding the pipeline should start operating in 2012. Technological breakthroughs may also shore up the balance sheets of sugar and ethanol mills. "New crop varieties will allow us to get more sugar from the cane," Syngenta's global head of development Robert Berendes said. "Brazilian cane yields have doubled spectacularly over the past 40 years. In 15 years, I see a tripling of yields through new crop varieties." (Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and Marguerita Choy)
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Billionaire Vinod Khosla took Big Oil to task on Monday for taking more risk on a long-odds deepwater oil well than on the future of biomass energy that he says will change the world within decades.
Speaking the 2011 Brazilian Ethanol Summit in Sao Paulo, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems said that the world is on the verge of a technological breakthrough in cost-effectively converting crops like sugarcane into most of the fuels and consumer products that petroleum now provides.
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Wesley Batista is likely to take a little less heat from his mother from now on.
The 40-year-old chief executive of the world’s biggest meat producer, Brazil’s JBS (JBSS3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), says his mother is always complaining that the family business was buying too many companies in its zeal to expand.
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil-based global meats giant JBS (JBSS3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is shifting focus toward maximizing profit for shareholders, ending a half-decade-long expansion that culminated in a flurry of costly takeovers.
The change in direction is being driven by JBS’s new chief executive, 40-year-old Wesley Batista, who took the reins from his younger brother Joesley in February — just as some investors were starting to sour on the company, wondering if it had grown too big, too fast.
SAO PAULO, March 28 (Reuters) – Brazil-based global meats
giant JBS (JBSS3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research) is shifting focus toward maximizing profit
for shareholders, ending a half-decade-long expansion that
culminated in a flurry of costly takeovers.
The change in direction is being driven by JBS’s new chief
executive, 40-year-old Wesley Batista, who took the reins from
his younger brother Joesley in February — just as some
investors were starting to sour on the company, wondering if it
had grown too big, too fast.
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – When soy futures hit record highs in 2008, Brazilian farmers were in no position to capitalize on the boom. Crippling debts, wild currency swings and high fertilizer and fuel costs rendered them unwilling or unable to sow more acres.
Today, although prices are almost 20 percent lower, conditions have rarely been better. Farmers, now flush with cash, are preparing the first sustained expansion of the country’s soy crop after a half decade of stagnation.
SAO PAULO, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Copersucar, Brazil’s largest
sugar exporter, is considering selling shares to raise cash for
investments in logistics and marketing, Chief Executive Officer
Paulo Roberto da Souza said on Thursday.
Da Souza said there was as yet no estimate of when the
share offering would take place. The company, which trades
sugar and ethanol produced at around four dozen associate
mills, was a cooperative until 2008 when it became a company.
SAO PAULO, Brazil, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Brazil’s attempt to
limit foreign ownership of land is not likely hurt
International Paper’s (IP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) investment plans in the country’s
forestry, pulp and paper industry, the local chief executive
IP’s Brazilian chief executive Jean Michel Ribieras told
Reuters on the sidelines of a lunch in Sao Paulo on Wednesday
that he was confident the government would eventually draw a
distinction between what he referred to as investments in
productive capacity and speculative investments in land.