Brazil is a complicated market where the legal, business and political landscape can change rapidly. To help you navigate its many complexities, we provide a regular round-up of the most important business and political news that PR and marketing professionals need to know.

  • Sales of mosquito repellents up 230% with Zika fears. Consumers have been racing to buy mosquito repellents in the past two months, after the Ministry of Health confirmed in late November the link between the Zika virus and a microcephaly outbreak in newborns in Brazil’s Northeast. According to Nielsen, in 2015 there was a 50% increase in sales of repellents, to R$217.4 million, compared with the previous year. By volume, sales rose 33%, to 14.8 million units. The jump was driven by December, when revenues increased by 230%, and in volume by 155%.
  • Telefônica Vivo launches startup accelerator in Brazil. Following Google and Itaú, Telefônica Vivo will also invest in a new startup incubator in Brazil. With a slightly altered model. Instead of an entire building gathering entrepreneurs under a single location – as Google does with its Campus and Itaú with its Cubo – the operator plans to partner with coworking spaces, where different companies share the same space, and which already are operating around Brazil. The plan is to take advantage of existing structures and create a scout network of sorts that can identify interesting initiatives with potential to receive investment from Wayra, the company’s startup unit.
  • Federal Government considers removing restrictions on foreign investment in Brazilian airlines. Currently non-Brazilian investors may not hold more than 20% of Brazilian airlines. A bill in Congress proposes to increase this to 49% but the Federal Government is considering removing all restrictions so that Brazilian airlines may be fully owned by non-Brazilians
  • Financial reporting season shows mixed results for Brazilian companies. Brazilian exporters are reporting solid results for 2015 due to the depreciation of the Brazilian currency, which makes their products more competitive in the global markets. Banks also are reporting good results for 2015, while warning that they expect greater difficulties in collecting loans receivable in the coming years. Companies focusing on the domestic market are not faring as well and are having to write down assets
  • Brazil’s Transport Ministry slackens its rules to attract foreign investors for new highway concessions in West and Central Brazil. Spanish players such as Ferrovial and OHL and Chinese companies are said to be entertaining bids, as are Brazilian majors and medium sized companies. Three separate bids are expected to be held in the first half of 2016 for three independent stretches varying from 400 to 1,000 km, with concession periods of 30 years generally (exceptionally, one of these stretches will be for 12 years). Further auctions for other highways are planned to take place in the 2nd half of 2016. The Ministry has stated that funding will be available from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), which will start negotiations with interested parties once the Requests for Bids become available
  • New law intended to make it easier for foreigners to do business in Brazil. According to Decree Law 8,600, which regulates the Hague Convention of 1961, foreigners wishing to operate in Brazil may no longer be required to legally recognise non-Brazilian public documents. In theory, only the original document plus a translation thereof need now be presented. However, lawyers are uncertain as to how the new decree will work in practice
  • Distance Learning Company FAEL triples in size in one year after acquisition by the US Apollo Group. The Company reported that its enrolled students increased from 11,000 to 30,000 since February 2015 and that it plans to increase this number to 55,000 by 2019
  • Kimberly Clark forecasts two-digit growth in Brazil despite downturn. The owner of the Kleenex brand grew 14% in Brazil in 2015, with revenues of R$4 billion, while the toiletries and personal care industry showed the first contraction in two decades. The company’s target is to double in size and triple the operating income between 2014 and 2020
  • Lula begins considering potential replacements for 2018 election. Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is considering the possibility of not being able to run for president in 2018 and began studying alternatives in the Workers’ Party (PT). According to Valor Economico, Mr. Lula included a new name in the potential race: Minas Gerais Governor Fernando Pimentel. Yet he also said that other names are still at play if he doesn’t run, a growing possibility in the face of allegations against him and his family of involvement in the Petrobras corruption scandal
  • Brazilian Judges using WhatsApp to speed up cases. Just months after the service was temporarily banned in Brazil by a state judge, to expedite cases and cut costs, Valor Economico reports that judges are using instant-messenger apps such as WhatsApp to summon individuals for hearings or payment of compensations. Even agreements have been made using the application
  • Carnival: The theme of this year’s Carnival Parade for the Rio Carnival School Estácio de Sá was St. George, patron saint of almost everybody, including England. The School (some 4,000 party goers) celebrated the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen during the parade on Sunday

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