Investors skeptical of Rousseff's options for Brazil finance chief

martes 21 de octubre de 2014 10:20 GYT

By Alonso Soto

BRASILIA Oct 21 (Reuters) - Whoever President Dilma Rousseff picks to head Brazil's finance ministry if she is re-elected on Sunday will likely get a cold welcome from investors, who are skeptical that the leftist leader will stop dictating policy herself.

Guido Mantega, Brazil's longest-serving finance minister, plans to step down at the end of December after more than eight years on the job. His replacement faces the daunting task of breathing life into an economy grappling with slow growth, rising consumer prices and deteriorating public finances.

Rousseff is considering a politically connected businessman to replace Mantega, according to several government officials and private-sector sources familiar with the president's thinking. They say that a former deputy finance minister as well as her chief of staff are also on Rousseff's short list.

Locked in a tight election race against centrist rival Aecio Neves, Rousseff has come under pressure to signal that she would embrace market-friendly policies if she is elected to a second term. In a nod to investors, the president has said she would make changes at the finance ministry, but has not provided specifics.

Though many in Brazil's business community welcome Mantega's departure, some question whether Rousseff's probable candidates to replace him at the helm of Latin America's largest economy would steer a markedly different course.

"The market will remain very skeptical regardless of who she appoints," said Gustavo Rangel, chief economist for Latin America at ING in New York. "Even if she puts someone there who has a good reputation, at the end the day success will depend on how much autonomy she gives that person."

One name circulating in government and business circles is Josue Gomes, a Vanderbilt University graduate who is chief executive of textile giant Coteminas.

Gomes is part of a small group of business leaders who are close to Rousseff. His late father, Jose Alencar, served as vice president under Rousseff's predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.   Continuación...