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Brazilian ex-mining executive Roger Agnelli killed in plane crash

A plane crash in Brazil has killed seven people including a former top executive of Brazilian mining giant Vale. Investigators are searching for the cause of the fatal accident that also injured a woman on the ground.

Authorities said that Roger Agnelli, the Brazilian banker who turned Vale SA into the world's leading iron ore producer, was killed in a Saturday crash that also killed his wife, two children, their spouses and the pilot. A woman on the ground was also reportedly injured.

Authorities gave no reason why Agnelli's Comp Air 9 turboprop airplane slammed into two houses around 3:20 p.m. local time (1820 UTC) Saturday shortly after takeoff from Campo de Marte airport in northern São Paulo.

Media reports said 56-year-old Agnelli was traveling to a wedding ceremony in Rio de Janeiro in clear weather.

Known as a strong personality, he reinforced a culture of meritocracy that helped make the company Brazil's top exporter - transforming it from a relatively inefficient state enterprise to a lean corporate powerhouse.

"I get paid to produce results, and the results are there, aren't they?" Agnelli told Valor Econômico newspaper in an interview in 2010.

That won him the respect of other business leaders.

"He was a visionary that corporate Brazil will miss badly," said Lawrence Pih, former chief of the flour mill Grupo Pacífico SA, who sat on the board at the São Paulo Federation of Industries with Agnelli.

Clashed with political leaders

Roger Agnelli

Roger Agnelli clinched Vale's top job in July 2001 after 19 years as an investment banker with Banco Bradesco SA, one of Vale's controlling shareholders.

But his cut throat instincts also earned him powerful detractors. His legendary brash style irked many local officials, labor leaders and powerful national leaders.

He resisted Brazil's ruling Workers' Party which wanted Vale to shift from exporting raw minerals to more value-added products such as steel and fertilizers to stimulate employment.

Agnelli clashed with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for firing 2,000 workers in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008. Months later, he accused members of Lula's left-leaning party of trying to install loyalists at Vale and seek a bigger say in key decisions.

Lula's successor, Dilma Rousseff, stepped up pressure on Agnelli and suceeded in pushing him out in May 2011, just months after she took office.

Following his departure from Vale, Agnelli founded AGN Participações Ltda and teamed up with Grupo BTG Pactual SA in a joint mining venture.

jar/bw (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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