Brazil’s biggest individual investor remains a buyer amid political uncertainty

By Paula Arend Laier

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – One of Brazil’s most successful individual investors, Luiz Barsi, said he is continuing to buy shares in its companies even as uncertainties loom ahead of October’s presidential elections, though the pace of his purchases has slowed.

Barsi, 83, one of the most influential figures in the Brazilian stock market, has accumulated about 4 billion reais ($735.7 million) in assets with a strategy of investing in companies that are good dividend payers.

Although he has reduced the pace of his share purchases from earlier in the year, when he had “more ambitious goals”, Barsi told Reuters in an interview he “continues to buy, but with a slower speed” after early targets were met.

Barsi said one of his relatively new positions, reinsurer IRB Brasil RE, “just needs a boost” after shares fell 90% following the discovery of an accounting fraud in early 2020.

“It’s like a locomotive – it’s on the rail but not running. It needs fuel, and that fuel is capitalization,” he said. Last week his youngest daughter, Louise Barsi, was elected to join the reinsurancer’s audit committee.

Barsi also lamented Brazil’s populist political direction, with both candidates in October’s presidential election, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, seen as fitting that mould.

He said it was difficult to make a forecast about the impact of the election on markets and companies, but added financial markets had already overcome hard times.

In the prior election, Barsi said he had voted for Bolsonaro. “I voted against Lula,” he said. “Now you have to do the same thing, in my opinion.”

But he said regardless of the outcome, he is not initially considering changing stock positions he has carried for years, including shares in lenders Banco do Brasil and Santander Brasil, and in pulpmaker Klabin.

($1 = 5.4372 reais)

(Reporting by Paula Arend Laier; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Jan Harvey)