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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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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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