• In an interview to Estadão, Héctor Núñez and Maurício Cruz talk about the Group’s challenges and progress

    DATE: 07/08/2022

    Published by: OEC Novonor

    We have shared the interview published last Thursday, July 7th, by Estado de São Paulo “Estadão” with the Novonor CEO, Héctor Núñez, and the OEC LN Business Leader, Maurício Cruz .

    The reporting covers, among other points, the path to strengthen the Group’s governance, the recovery insight through the power of our engineering, and the future agenda. Two pages that also speak on the OEC’s international action, the perspective of employment growth in Brazil, and an eye for new technologies.


    Read, next, the main parts of the interview:

    For the Novonor’s command, the group brought a retail executive; as for OEC – ex-Odebrecht Engineering & Construction-, it chose a home-grown leader. The former is under the leadership of Héctor Núñez, a Cuban executive who has worked at retail companies like Walmart and Ri Happy. The latter is headed by Maurício Cruz Lopes, who started at Odebrecht 25 years ago as an intern.

    When stating that the corporate governance structure of Novonor is established and already acknowledged, the pair affirm that the most part of the market has already understood that the company is in a new moment. And, although the company is looking ahead, the executives emphasize that there were positive legacies of Odebrecht. “In civil construction, we always had a recognized quality in construction works and everything was based on people”, said Lopes.

    Why did you accept to come to Novonor?

    Núñez: I had never imagined to be in charge of a company like this, with this complexity and in the infrastructure segment. However, when this opportunity came, I realized that, with the path already paved, the court-supervised reorganization validated and leniency agreements made, it was possible to look through the strategic lens. I arrived at the board of directors last year to get to know the group and its companies well, in a deep way, and start to think of the future next steps.


    Does the group have restrictions to participate in public works today?

    Lopes: We have no limitation. The thing is that there is few pure infrastructure works.


    And the company reduced too much in size…

    Lopes: We faced a business crisis and a historical downtrend. Besides the reduction of investments, the downsizing of the entire industry came up: the lockdown. We already had 130 thousand employees. In the pandemic, it was 8 thousand (at OEC). Today, we have 10.5 thousand; next year, we will be close to 12 thousand, and we will reach 15 thousand in two years. We are taking advantage of the period to reorganize ourselves. We are already participating in bidding processes in Brazil, and the prospects are exciting.


    And where are the biggest opportunities for growth?

    Núñez: There are countries in different moments. For example, there is an investment plan in the USA of US$ 1.3 trillion by Joe Biden (the USA president). At the moment, we are submitting a proposal for a monorail in Miami and another one inside the city’s port. We are also preparing proposals for the Miami airport, where we have a 20-year relationship already. Angola, on the other hand, is retaking the investment since there has already been an increase in the oil price, which has helped its economy. And Brazil must go back to investing in infrastructure in the next years.


    Do you believe that Brazil needs to resume public investment?

    Núñez: Brazil needs to invest. We believe that, regardless of the candidate to become the next president, investments need to be on the agenda.


    But will OEC auction concessions, as in the past?

    Lopes: Concession is a relatively new business at the company. Our first entry in a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) was in Peru, in 2004, and then others appeared. Now we are more focused on engineering and construction. We have searched for some utilities, and we have an intense agenda of infrastructure services, and we will enter a cycle that will be very productive.


    On which areas will the company be more focused?

    Núñez: We have clear sectors: sanitation and energy. We already have built more than 65 hydroelectric power plants in the world, 18 simultaneously. But we are talking about solar and wind power plants as well, and, eventually, even in the green hydrogen area. We are also keeping an eye on the pure and industrial infrastructure matter.


    How is the court-supervised reorganization going?

    Núñez: We are complying with all of our agreements and discussing creditors. One of the challenges will be to seek financing. But we have obtained it, for example, in Angola, with international banks and insurance companies. Our reorganization and exit of the process will come from a series of components. One way will be disinvestments, which we need to make to pay debts. And part of it will happen with cash flow. Our companies will grow and generate results.


    Is the Braskem sale about to happen?

    Nuñez: Our court-supervised reorganization has various components, and one of them is disinvestments. We have not only Braskem, which I cannot give details about for being a publicly held company, but we also have others like Ocean, an oil and gas company, besides our concession company.


    Do you work with some kind of deadline to finish this disinvestment plan?

    Núñez: We don’t have a deadline, and much of it depends on the market. Obviously, we don’t want to live this for so long, and we want to disinvest as soon as possible.


    The negative past is known. But what positive things remained from the old Odebrecht to Novonor?

    Lopes: We have an extraordinary team. In civil construction, we always had an acknowledged quality in the works done by us, and everything was based on people. We are sure that, with this quality that impresses to this day, it happens because people join the team to accomplish fantastic things. Our role has been and will always be to build and rebuild this trust with all stakeholders, and we are on this pace.

    Click here to read in full – only in portuguese.

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