Belmiro de Azevedo, 79, passed away this Wednesday

  • ECO News
  • 29 November 2017

Belmiro de Azevedo, the leader of Sonae, has passed away this Wednesday. He was one of Portugal's richest men, who broadened Sonae's empire from retail to telecommunications.

Belmiro de Azevedo, leader of Sonae, died aged 79. André Kosters / Lusa. ANDRE KOSTERS/LUSA

Belmiro Mendes de Azevedo, Portuguese businessman who headed the retail group Sonae and who was one of Portugal’s richest man, has died this Wednesday in a hospital in Oporto, according to RTP3.

Belmiro de Azevedo has a degree in Chemical Engineering, and his first professional experience was in Efanor, a factory company from the North of Portugal. In the end of the 1960 decade, he entered Sonae and started administrating the company in 1974. As he described on his speech celebrating his 50th year in Sonae, his first job in the company was to “destroy, and then rebuild”.

Sonae became an empire under his leadership, having invested in several areas: retail, by creating brands such as Continente, Modelo, Worten, Sport Zone and several malls in Portugal; communications through the foundation of the newspaper Público;  telecommunications, with an investment in Optimus (now called Nos); and tourism, by investing in Troia ResortIn 1983, he took Sonae to the capital market and, by then, became the company’s major shareholder.

For many years, Belmiro de Azevedo headed the list of Portugal’s richest people, but he saw his fortune shrink with the decrease of Sonae’s market capitalization. In 2017, Forbes’ ranking placed Belmiro de Azevedo in third place of Portugal’s richest people, whit a fortune assessed in 1.4 billion euros, holding a place in the world’s richest list as well.

At 77, in April of 2015, he left Sonae’s board, exactly 50 years after entering the company. He left his position to his children, Paulo Azevedo and Cláudia Azevedo.