Olavo Setúbal

Olavo Setúbal

Olavo Setúbal
Mayor of São Paulo (appointed)
In office
17 August 1975 – 11 July 1979
Preceded by Miguel Colasuonno
Succeeded by Reinaldo de Barros
Minister of Foreign Relations of Brazil
In office
Preceded by Ramiro Saraiva Guerreiro
Succeeded by Abreu Sodré
Personal details
Born (1923-04-16)16 April 1923
São Paulo, Brazil
Died 26 August 2008(2008-08-26) (aged 85)
São Paulo, Brazil
Political party PFL
Occupation Banker

Olavo Egídio Setúbal (16 April 1923 – 26 August 2008) was a Brazilian industrialist, banker and politician. He was Mayor of São Paulo from 1975 to 1979, Minister of External Relations from 1986 to 1987, and chairman of the Itaúsa conglomerate from 2001 to his death in 2008.

Early life

Olavo Setúbal was born in São Paulo, (his surname comes from the city Setúbal in Portugal, where his great grandfather was born) he decided to be an engineer at an early age against his father wishes. Paulo Setúbal who was a successful and bohemian writer at the time wanted to have a talk with his son before dying. He advised him to be a lawyer instead of an engineer saying "Engineering is a second rate career. You should be a lawyer because they are the ones prepared to lead Brazil". His mother, Francisca Setúbal, had to support his studies from the age of 13 onwards. In 1945, he graduated by Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo and started to work as professor-assistant at IPT.

First Business

With US$ 10,000 that he managed to save, Setúbal and an old school friend bought two machines founding Deca, the company produced parts for knobs and faucets and had ten employees at the time. The beginning was difficult but in 1953 the company started to recover when introduced the industry of flush valve.

Assisting Family Businesses

While Deca was doing very well, he was requested to recover his uncle Alfredo businesses. He owned Duratex and a small bank called Banco Federal de Crédito. Setúbal successfully freed both institutions from debt. When his uncle died, Setúbal became general-director of the Banco Federal de Crédito in 1959. He started to hunt big clients and obtained resources that allowed financing bigger operations. One of his first measures was to make sure all managers had high school level.

Expanding the Businesses

In the 60's, Setúbal realised that there was no other way to expand the business if other institutions were not incorporated. When Itaú was bought, the list of clients was mainly rural, the bank became the 16th biggest in Brazil. New merges happened and slowly Setúbal became the 2nd biggest banker in Brazil by the end of the 1970s.

Political career

The successful professional career approached his relations with politics. In 1975, the governor Paulo Egydio Martins appointed him to the post of Mayor of São Paulo. About his time in office as mayor he stated: "It was one of the rare periods I had insomnia and had to take medicines to sleep...", "Administrating the city is a fantastic thing, I feel honored. but you have to work much harder than you do while running a bank and the salary is much lower."

During president José Sarney administration in 1985 he was appointed as Minister of Foreign Relations, the appointment was actually made by Tancredo Neves.

In an internal election at PFL, he was defeated and gave up the idea of running for Governor of São Paulo in 1986 retiring from the political life.


Preceded by
Miguel Colasuonno
Mayor of São Paulo
Succeeded by
Reinaldo de Barros