BBVA Banco Continental Chairman Mario Brescia Dies at 83

Mario Brescia Cafferata, who with his older brother Pedro built the family business into one of Peru’s largest conglomerates and the country’s second-largest lender, has died, El Comercio reported. He was 83.

The Brescias’ business included investments in mining, insurance, construction and a 50 percent stake in BBVA Banco Continental. The Lima-based newspaper didn’t say where it got the information and a family spokesman declined to comment.

The youngest of four children, Mario helped transform a family farming business started by his father, Fortunato, an Italian immigrant. After losing their holdings during the land redistribution program of the 1960s, the brothers diversified into the nascent fishmeal industry, creating what became the world’s biggest fishmeal and fish oil producer, Tecnologia de Alimentos.

“He was a person with great vision and invested with amazingly good judgment,” Humberto Speziani, a director at Tasa, said by phone from Lima. “He was a very simple man, who could operate easily at all levels of society.”

The Brescias later branched out into mining, hotels and in the 1990s turned their hand to banking, operating Banco Continental in partnership with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA. Mario became the lender’s chairman last month to replace his brother Pedro, who retired after leading the bank for 18 years.

The group flourished as the Andean country sold off state-run businesses in the 1990s and embraced business-friendly policies. In the past decade, the group looked further afield, making acquisitions in Brazil and Chile.

Businesses wholly or partially controlled by the Brescia family included Minsur SA, the world’s fourth-largest tin producer, Rimac Seguros y Reaseguros, Peru’s largest insurer, explosives manufacturer Exsa SA and Chilean cement producer Melon SA.

The group’s hotel unit partnered Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. in 2011 to build The Westin, Peru’s tallest building, on the site of the Brescias’ hacienda in the heart of Lima’s financial district.

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