MEET ISSAD REBRAB: ALGERIA'S RICHEST MAN

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STORY

Issad Rebrab (born 1944), is an Algerian billionaire businessman, CEO of the CEVITAL industrial group, the largest private company in Algeria, active in steel, food, agribusiness and electronics.
According to Bloomberg, Rebrab is the ninth richest person in Africa, with an estimated net worth of US$4.31 billion, as of June 2017.
Issad Rebrab, a self-made man, is best known for running Cevital, the largest conglomerate in Algeria. It is one of the biggest sugar refineries across the globe, with an annual output of around 1½ million tons. Other than that, the group also produces margarine and vegetable oil. Trained for accountancy, a client in 1971 advised him to invest in a metal company, and after that, he expanded into food. By 1998, Rebrab was confident enough to incept Cevital, which today employs more than 13,000 people in the country.

Rebrab was one of the very first Algerians who entered entrepreneurship after independence, and became the first billionaire of Algeria. Son of revolutionaries who struggled for the independence of Algeria, he was not just a destiny to be so successful in his career. It was his hard work and determination that gave him such a big name in the industry.
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CAREER

His industrial career started in 1971, when one of his clients proposed he take shares in a metallurgical construction company. He took 20% of the shares in Sotecom. After that, he created other companies in the steel industry: Profilor in 1975 and Metal Sider in 1988.
In 1995, his main installations were destroyed in a terrorist attack. After he recognized the risks of staying, Rebrab decided to leave Algeria. He came back in 1998 with Cevital, the biggest group in agricultural business, which later became the largest private Algerian company. Cevital owns one of the largest sugar refineries in the world.
In 2016, Rebrab acquired El Khabar media group, for $45 million. This was his second investment into media, as he already owns the French-Algerian daily paper Liberte.
Rebrab is listed on the Bloomberg Billionaires index, and is currently valued at $4.28 billion

Issad Rebrab came from a humble family, and completed his studies from a modest vocational school. After finishing his graduation, he started teaching business law and accounting, but soon abandoned teaching and established his own accounting firm in 1968. Here, one of his clients advised Rebrab to invest in his metallurgical construction business, and then, there was no looking back. He knew that he was taking a risk, and ‘at worst, I knew I could always go back to teaching’ he says

In 1971, Issad acquired 20% capital of Sotecom, a metallurgic manufacturing company. With this, he entered the world of business, and created many other companies in the same industry. In 1995, his major installations were destroyed in the terrorist attacks, and Rebrab had to leave Algeria and live in France for a few months. But in 1998, he returned with the foundation of Cevital, which was perhaps the largest group in agricultural sector at that time.
Today, Cevital is one of the largest Algerian exporters, also providing liquid sugar for the Algerian drinks industry. In 2012, Cevital Agro provided 450,000 tons of oil for domestic consumption. Some part of Cevital’s production is kept for domestic use, while the excess is exported to different parts of the world, including West Africa, Europe and Middle East.
In addition to being the head of the Cevital Empire, his industrial activities also extend to petrochemistry, naval, automobile construction and steel industry. Rebrab also has plans to build a town which will accommodate more than 250,000 people. He has a subsidiary called Samha, through which he becomes a sole agent for Samsung Electronics in Algeria. Cevicar, also his subsidiary is the sole agent of Europcar, a car rental company. Other than these, he serves as an investor in many businesses of the country.



Issad Rebrab has made more frequent trips to Brazil in the past few years. And that is because his company, Cevital, is one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Algeria, which has been making voluptuous investments in Brazil. This Algerian billionaire is especially interested in Brazil, first and foremost, due to the agricultural potential of the Country, one of the few in the world capable of supplying the demands of Cevital for raw materials. Rebrab has sought to diversify his investments in order to generate wealth in diverse regions of the world, than just generating his own wealth and his own business ventures.
The Cevital group businesses are present on five continents and exploit such different segments as: steel, foods, agribusiness, and electronics. Nowadays, the food and agribusiness division of the company runs the largest sugar refineries in the world, boasting an annual production of around 1.5 million tons. Its activities even include petroleum refining, margarine production, and beverage packaging production, pickles and preserves, and in the field of port silos, as well as port terminals for unloading goods. The products are sold in several countries, especially in Europe, Maghreb, Middle East, and Western Africa.
The company is especially interested in investing in building a steel mill in Marabá, Pará State, in Brazil, estimated as a 4.5 billion Real project. The steel mill will dedicate its production to producing train rails for Latin America. Besides that, other products derived from steel will be shipped to the European and African markets by way of its Italian and Algerian group units. 20 thousand jobs will be generated during the course of the plant. After that, there will be an impact from the 2.6 thousand direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs in the region. That type of production is unprecedented in Latin America. “We intend to make technological transfers” he kids.
That good mood was how Issad Rabrab opened his scheduling for greeting the ATLANTICO team during the 4th Brazil-Africa Forum, in Foz do Iguaçu. During the conversation, one can confirm the following; he spoke about the Cevital business ventures in Brazil, the importance of the private sector for achieving development in countries, his interest in investing in the media, and even giving tips to those who are starting businesses. “(It is necessary) to be optimistic”, he summarizes.
ATLANTICO — Cevital has carried out several prospections here in Brazil. Some agreements have been signed, including one already underway, the construction of a steel mill in Marabá, Pará State. How is Brazil important to the Cevital business deals?
Issad Rebrad — Well, first of all, in 2013, Adam Iskounen, who is our international director in Brazil made us reflect on the fact that, Cevital, the first importer of Brazilian products in Algeria, 62% of the Brazilian exportations to Algeria go through Cevital. Among the imported products from Brazil are sugar, corn, and soy flour. We have the largest sugar refinery in the world, capable of refining 2.7 million tons that we export to Europe and Africa. Our friend Paulo Hegg took us and Adam Iskoumen to Mato Grosso to discover a fantastic country. Mato Grosso is the cradle of cereal production and it is the greatest grain producer in the world. 
However, we confirmed its high cost of logistics. We calculated, for example, at that time, a ton of corn costs US$85 in Mato Grosso, but the logistics costs US$140 per ton; which means, the logistics costs more than the corn itself. Meanwhile, in the United States, logistics does not cost more than US$25 to US$35 per ton. Thus, that makes Brazil extremely competitive in its agricultural crop, yet it cannot escape from its logistics cost. Then, we decided to invest in logistics in Brazil. So, we decided to purchase the properties in Miritituba and in the Vila do Conde port, in Barcarena. And now, we have implemented a project in Marabá focused on iron making, at the steel mill. We are going to buy a silo in Mato Grosso, next to Vera, where we intend to invest in an industrial unit for producing ethanol. Our most important goal is to securitize Algeria and the surrounding region of Magrebe, in northern Africa on an agrifood production level. And from 2013 to up to now, we purchased the second largest steel mill in Italy in 2015 named Lucchini, which is the largest manufacture of train rails in Europe. 
And we had the honor of hosting the governor of Pará State in Algeria, so that he could visit the Cevital agrifood industrial facilities and we encouraged him to perform a similar transformation of the agrifood industry in Pará State and also in the steel mill industry in Marabá.


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