SAO PAULO – Roger Agnelli, the Brazilian banker who turned Vale SA (VALE5.SA) into the world’s No. 1 iron ore producer, died on Saturday in a plane crash, a source close to aviation authorities told Reuters. He was 56.
Agnelli, his wife and two children were among seven killed when his Comp Air 9 turboprop monoplane slammed into two homes around 3:20 p.m. local time (1820 GMT), minutes after taking off from an airport in northern São Paulo, said the source, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the information.
Emergency services said the pilot and six passengers were killed in the crash. Aviation authorities confirmed that Agnelli was the owner of the plane but could not provide a passenger list.
Sources said Agnelli was traveling to a wedding ceremony in Rio de Janeiro with his wife Andréia, son João, daughter Anna Carolina, and their two spouses. The weather was clear at the time of the crash.
Known for his discipline and feisty nature, Agnelli clinched the top job at Vale in July 2001 after 19 years as a corporate and investment banker with Banco Bradesco SA BBDC4.SA, a major Vale shareholder.
He instilled a culture of meritocracy that helped make Vale Brazil’s No. 1 exporter. To friends and foes, the key to Agnelli’s success was accurately predicting the rise of China as a major minerals consumer, a crucial wager in turning Vale, a former bloated state-controlled firm, into a global powerhouse.
“He was a visionary that corporate Brazil will miss badly,” said Lawrence Pih, who for decades ran flour mill Grupo Pacífico SA and sat on the board at the São Paulo Federation of Industries with Agnelli.
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