Report pegs Vale director [Tito] Martins to be new CEO (Globe and Mail – March 30, 2011)

“Tito Martins is a Vale man, heart and soul; he understands the company.” (Marcio Macedo, a partner with Humaita Investimentos – Sao Paulo)

SAO PAULO – Reuters

Vale SA director Tito Botelho Martins will be named the company’s new chief executive officer, a local newspaper reported Wednesday, the latest chapter in an ongoing tussle over the leadership of the world’s largest producer of iron ore.

Newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that Brazilian bank Bradesco, a key Vale shareholder, backed Mr. Martins to replace current CEO Roger Agnelli. Folha, which did not say where it obtained the information, said Bradesco would announce its decision by Friday.

Mr. Martins’ designation would likely hearten investors following concerns the government would tap an inexperienced politician who would slow the company’s profit growth.

“Tito Martins is a Vale man, heart and soul; he understands the company,” said Marcio Macedo, a partner with Humaita Investimentos in Sao Paulo, which manages close to $37-million (U.S.) in assets and owns Vale shares. “Right now, Vale shares are very, very cheap. If he is confirmed, I think we could see some relief for the shares.”

Mr. Martins, 47, is director of the company’s base metals operations and chief of its nickel subsidiary in Canada. He joined Vale in 1985 and in 2009 became head of Vale Inco, the Canadian nickel producer that Vale acquired in 2006. It is now known simply as Vale.

His tough stance over benefits for unionized workers led to a protracted strike that lasted more than a year at one of the Inco facilities, sparking harsh criticism by social activists and straining the firm’s community relations in Canada.

Brazil’s government has pressed heavily for Mr. Agnelli’s removal following years of accusations that the company was not doing enough to help the country’s economic development or create jobs through investment in steel mills.

If confirmed, Mr. Martins will face the challenge of delivering the soaring shareholder returns provided by Mr. Agnelli while improving ties with the government, local communities and suppliers that have been strained during Mr. Agnelli’s decade-long tenure as CEO.

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