Huge port envisioned by tycoon opens in Brazil - without him

miércoles 8 de junio de 2016 13:37 GYT

By Jeb Blount

SAO JOAO DA BARRA, Brazil, June 8 (Reuters) - The launch this week of Prumo Logistica's $3.7 billion Port of Açu, the largest in Latin America, marked the revival of a Brazilian logistics hub many thought doomed when the empire of its former billionaire owner collapsed.

Açu's more than 25 km (15.5 miles) of docks, piers and breakwaters is a much-needed step towards narrowing a crippling infrastructure gap in Latin America's largest economy.

The Manhattan-sized industrial complex northeast of Rio de Janeiro, which officially opened on Tuesday, however, remains a far cry from the plans drafted by Eike Batista before his $60 billion EBX industrial empire disappeared almost overnight in 2013.

While Batista envisioned a thriving hub of shipyards, steel mills and electric-car factories, much of the giant complex remains a quiet expanse of bird-flocked dunes and swamp.

Batista ceded control of Açu three years ago to Washington, D.C.-based EIG Energy Partners in exchange for a promise to invest $562 million in the unfinished port.

"Açu is doing well because the port was based on solid ideas," said Jose Magela, CEO of Prumo, which is 74 percent owned by EIG.

So far, Açu has been most attractive for oil-related ventures. About 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Rio, it sits aside waters responsible for 80 percent of Brazil's oil output. The petroleum industry accounts for more than a tenth of the nation's gross domestic product.

On Tuesday, Prumo opened Brazil's first independent crude-oil terminal in partnership with Germany's Oiltanking GmbH.   Continuación...