2010 The Odebrecht Organization, Brazil
Salvador (Bahia), Brazil
Odebrecht S.A. is one of the largest non-financial Brazilian conglomerates, a leader in today’s emerging markets. It is the holding company for Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S.A., the biggest engineering and contracting company in Latin America, Braskem S.A., the largest petrochemicals producer in Latin America, and for ETH, a leading ethanol producer in Brazil.
The Odebrecht Organization is majority family-owned and fully family-controlled, with family representatives having successfully steered the company’s fast growth through phases of internationalization and diversification. Over the last decade, the Organization managed an impressive increase of its gross revenues from $4.2 billion in 2000 to $23.3 billion in 2009, with a corresponding increase in employees from 21,000 to 87,000.
The Odebrecht family emigrated from Germany to Brazil in 1856, starting a strong legacy of innovation and pioneering in engineering. The first construction-related businesses were established in 1919, but it was truly the establishment of CNO S.A. in 1944 by Norberto Odebrecht (90) that laid the foundation stone of today’s Odebrecht Organization. He successfully translated strong family values into a powerful management system and corporate culture, described as the “Odebrecht Entrepreneurial Technology.” In 1991, Norberto’s oldest son Emilio Odebrecht assumed the CEO role. Throughout the company’s history, family members were always at the helm of the company, exercising direct executive control most of the time, except for a transition period between 2002 and 2009 when a non-family director held the chief executive position while Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht, Norberto’s grandson, was being groomed for the CEO role. The holding company Odebrecht S.A. has a majority interest in all its daughter companies and fully controls them. It is closely held by the family holding, Kieppe Participações, which is chaired by Norberto’s oldest son Emilio Odebrecht, who currently also holds the position of Chairman of the Board for Odebrecht S.A.
A deeply rooted entrepreneurial instinct, combined with strong family values and deep trust in the human being allowing a delegation of responsibility throughout the chain of command and the promotion of extremely close links to key clients have been core ingredients in Odebrecht’s impressive success. These elements will continue to form the basis of the Group’s future growth and its ambition to become “one of the 50 most admired organizations in the world.”