{ Cheese Bread & Business } – Chazen Brazil Summer Study Trip 2017

Reporting live from the Intercontinental Sao Paulo, this is your Brazil Summer Study Tour 2017 correspondent. It’s 4 days into the trip and we have hit peak Chazen.

The crew arrived in Sao Paulo on Thursday the 17th. Despite the cold and rainy weather, spirits were high as everyone got together the first night to kick off at the beautiful rooftop SKYE. Dinner and drinks were served at one of Sao Paulo’s best venues, with an outdoor pool and amazing view of the city. We even got to celebrate the birthday of our leader Adriana Silva! Rob Abelson manned the gin and tonic bar and served up some delicious bevvies. A fun night out at Casa Bar followed, where we danced and admired interesting cat-centric art.

On Friday the 18th, despite a small elevator mishap in the morning at the hotel, we boarded the bus for our first company visit: BRF. This vertically integrated food company were excellent hosts as they walked us through their core businesses of poultry and pork products. In the meeting, we learned about all kinds of business issues through the lens of the company, including supply chain management, M&A, company culture, and building a global business. We have three students in the chicken industry in our group, who all loved the visit, especially Matt Rosen who enjoyed the sandwiches on offer.

Lunch at a Brazilian restaurant was followed by rest at the hotel. In the evening, the hotel rewarded us for their elevator misdeeds with a free happy hour (our learnings from managerial negotiations class helped arrange this one). A wonderful dinner at the Jockey Club capped off the first full day, at that meal, like all meals, cheese bread was served.

On Saturday, we went to CCR to learn about highways and the infrastructure business at another one of Brazil’s largest companies. A hands-on tour of the control center saw the entire city welcome us on a road sign, and yours truly got to work with a world-leading paramedics team. It was quite a fascinating visit that we were fortunate to have on a weekend and once again we saw many universally applicable business problems being solved by this Brazilian firm.

In the afternoon, we were warmly welcomed at the Silva home for Feijoada (a traditional Brazilian stew) and dancing. Internationally-renowned DJ Schaff came all the way from New York to perform.

As we enjoyed our free day on Sunday, we were prepping for the upcoming week’s company visits with eager anticipation. That and of course getting together to watch the awesome Game of Thrones episode. Zombie dragon OMG!

Leading finally to today’s excellent meetings with Vinci Partners, the country’s leading PE/Asset Management firm, and Monashees, the leading VC shop. At Vinci, two partners spoke to us about the PE environment here and some of the challenges and opportunities they’ve faced during Brazil’s volatile macro environment the past several years. One interesting deal they highlighted was their acquisition of the master franchise rights to Burger King in Brazil and how they’ve created value in ways unique to the market.

At Monashees, two senior executives spoke at length about the tech sector, and how the firm has leveraged their market-leading position to connect with other VC’s abroad in Silicon Valley and China. One of their portfolio companies, Magnetis, gave an excellent presentation on how they’ve become a leading player in the fintech space as a robo-advisor.

A key takeaway thus far from looking at a diverse range of companies and industries is that the Brazilian economy is truly starting to emerge from a deep recession. For those in the right position, that is leading to many opportunities in the 9th largest economy in the world. We are looking forward to better weather for the rest of the trip, and have some very exciting visits planned for the remainder of the week.

This is your correspondent signing off for now. Until next time Chazen fans!

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