The Batista family, whose numerous assets include JBS, the world's largest tanner and meat processing company, has become the largest shareholder of Alpargatas, the parent company of Havaianas and Dupé. The Batista family, whose holdings have an estimated net worth of $5 billion, has agreed to acquire the 44.1 percent stake previously held by Camargo Correa in Alpargatas for 2,667 million reais (€654.5m-$693.4m) through its holding company, J&F Investimentos. The purchase will also give it the majority of the voting shares.

The transaction is based on a valuation of R$12.85 per share, well above the peak price of R$10.38 reached during the past 52 weeks. J&F is apparently obliged to make a tender offer for the balance of Alpargatas' shares, but it has not yet indicated the timing.

The new shareholders, who visited the company's European office in Madrid earlier this week have indicated that they wish to accelerate Havaianas' growth outside Brazil, where the brand has the biggest development potential. In Brazil, its annual sales of rubber sandals are about equal to the total population.

J&F, which is considering going public, also has investments in a pulp and paper producer, Eldorado Brasil Celulose; a dairy products firm, Vigor Alimentos; and a bank called Banco Original. It is also involved in energy and eucalypus plantations. It is more diversified and more international-oriented than the previous majority shareholder, Camargo Correa, whose core business is in construction and real estate. It is cashing out of Alpargatas because it is facing a huge fine in connection with a big political scandal involving bribes and kickbacks.

Havaianas is set to get higher investments in Europe and the rest of the world on new products and marketing. The brand's diversification into fancy non-rubber sandals, espadrilles, rainboots and other closed shoes will be pursued.

Eno Polo, Alpargatas' European director, said the company is planning to introduce beachwear in Europe in 2017, as it has already done in Brazil. For this purpose, it plans to open larger stores like the 120-square-meter location that it started up in Barcelona last July. The next one may see the light in Rome.

Germany and Austria, where Alpargatas recently took over the distribution, are regarded as priority markets because that's where Havaianas has the lowest brand awareness in Europe. It plans to start working with Zalando soon. Its products are currently sold through about 8,000 stores in the ten countries where it trade directly.

Prior to the takeover deal, Alpargatas decided to concentrate on the Havaianas brand. As reported in our previous issue, the company announced on Nov. 4 that it was selling the rights to its own Rainha and Topper brands of sports shoes for the Brazilian market and a 20 percent stake in Topper Argentina. It also said that it was going to manufacture Mizuno shoes in Brazil because of the decline in the value of the real.