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The days of easy, carefree growth in Brazil came to an abrupt end at the start of this decade. Weaker commodities prices, infrastructure bottlenecks and persistent inflation throttled the economy’s expansion rate from a peak of 7.5 percent in 2010 to less than 1 percent last year, and economists predict that real gross domestic product will grow by just a modest 2.5 percent this year and next. The sluggish economy, combined with popular frustration over poor public services and corruption, spilled over into massive street demonstrations earlier this year.

Those conditions would hardly seem to represent an ideal investment climate, but don’t tell that to Fabio ­Schvartsman. The chief executive officer of pulp and paper manufacturer Klabin is on an expansion spree. He is investing in five existing pulp-making plants to increase their capacity by a total of 290,000 tons in 2014. The company also plans to spend 7.2 billion reais ($3.3 billion) to build a new 1.5 million-ton pulp plant in the southern state of Paraná, which is due to come on stream by the first quarter of 2016. All told, Klabin’s production potential is set to more than double over the next two and half years, from 1.7 million to 3.5 million tons.

Schvartsman doesn’t hold any particularly rosy views about the broader Brazilian outlook, but he believes the addition of modern capacity — combined with the group’s sizable timber holdings in the state of Paraná — will untether his company’s fortunes from that of the economy.

“Obviously, if the performance of the Brazilian and international economies are better, it’ll be better for us,” he tells Institutional Investor. “But the good thing is that we are not counting on that. Our strategy doesn’t require a strong economy in order to be profitable.”

So far, Schvartsman’s strategy has delivered strong results. Klabin’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 31 percent in 2012, to R1.35 billion; ebitda in the first half of this year grew 17 percent, compared with the year-earlier period, to R693 million.

Investors certainly do appreciate that performance. Schvarts­man is voted the top chief executive in the Pulp & Paper sector by both buy- and sell-side analysts II surveyed for the 2013 Latin America Executive Team, the magazine’s fourth annual ranking of the region’s top CEOs, CFOs, investor relations professionals and IR teams. The company’s chief financial officer, Antonio ­Sergio Alfano, is deemed best in the sector by buy-side analysts and No. 2 by the sell-side. The buy side also awards top marks to Klabin’s investor relations team and to IR chief Vinicius Campos.