Brazil's 'Iron Man' miner killed in plane crash

roger agnelli

Roger Agnelli, who transformed a sclerotic state-controlled mining outfit into one of Brazil's top companies, has been killed in a plane crash.

Agnelli, 56, was traveling in a small aircraft that crashed into homes shortly after takeoff from Sao Paulo on Saturday. Local media reported that six other people, including Agnelli's wife and two children, were also killed in the crash.

Vale, the mining giant Agnelli led for a decade, paid tribute to a man who it said "contributed so much to the development of our company."

Having spent the previous two decades as a banker, Agnelli took control of Vale in 2001 soon after the Rio de Janeiro-based company was privatized. He quickly embarked on a series of global acquisitions that diversified the struggling iron ore producer into new materials and markets.

Agnelli's prodigious appetite for deal-making was rewarded by investors, who bid Vale's share price to new heights. Meanwhile, the company's fortunes were boosted by a global commodities boom fed by increased demand from China.

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In 2013, Agnelli was named the 4th best-performing CEO in the world by Harvard Business Review, trailing only Steve Jobs of Apple (AAPL), Jeff Bezos of Amazon (AMZN) and Samsung's Yun Jong-Yong

roger agnelli plane crash
A small plane carrying Roger Agnelli crashed north of São Paolo on Saturday.

Agnelli was known for his tenacious approach to business and was sometimes referred to as "Iron Man."

According to a profile of the CEO published by Reuters in 2008, Agnelli once insisted on traveling to meet with government officials despite breaking his foot in a soccer match a day earlier. Only after the meeting, the article said, did Agnelli go to a hospital for treatment.

He left Vale in 2011 and later served as a non-executive director at advertising giant WPP. Agnelli was also working on a new mining venture at the time of his death.

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