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Family Office Powered by Mining Creates $6 Billion Money Machine

The Moreira Salles name is known throughout Brazil. But few anywhere in the world are familiar with the family office that manages its vast fortune.

Moreira Salles Bank customer’s passbook, circa 1939

Source: Itau Unibanco 90-year anniversary website

Updated on

Spend any time in Brazil and you’ll probably hear about — and hand money over to — the Moreira Salles family.

It co-owns the nation’s largest bank, controls 80% of the world’s supply of a critical rare-earth metal used in everything from cars to pacemakers, and holds stakes in a host of companies, including the maker of the ubiquitous Havaianas flip flops. The family name is emblazoned across museums, entrenched in culture and rooted deeply in finance. All told, the family is worth over $20 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.