The launch this week of Prumo Logistica’s $3.7 billion Port of Açu, the largest in Latin America, marked the revival of a Brazilian logistics hub many thought doomed when the empire of its former billionaire owner collapsed.
Açu’s more than 25 km (15.5 miles) of docks, piers and breakwaters is a much-needed step towards narrowing a crippling infrastructure gap in Latin America’s largest economy.
The Manhattan-sized industrial complex northeast of Rio de Janeiro, which officially opened on Tuesday, however, remains a far cry from the plans drafted by Eike Batista before his $60 billion EBX industrial empire disappeared almost overnight in 2013.
While Batista envisioned a thriving hub of shipyards, steel mills and electric-car factories, much of the giant complex remains a quiet expanse of bird-flocked dunes and swamp.
Batista ceded control of Açu three years ago to Washington, D.C.-based EIG Energy Partners in exchange for a promise to invest $562 million in the unfinished port.
“Açu is doing well because the port was based on solid ideas,” said Jose Magela, CEO of Prumo, which is 74 percent owned by EIG.