- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Norberto Odebrecht, founder of the Brazilian construction company behind large-scale projects such as dams and highways in the Amazon jungle and some of the World Cup stadiums, died Saturday of heart problems. He was 93.

Odebrecht started the company in 1944 in the city of Salvador to carry on his father’s legacy in the construction industry.

The conglomerate that carries his name went on to lead ambitious projects such as paving a highway across the Andes mountains and through the Amazon rainforest into Peru, and linking Miami’s Metrorail to the city’s airport. It also formed a consortium with other firms and was awarded contracts for four of the 12 stadiums that hosted games for the World Cup that ended this month.

The builder said in a news statement late Saturday that Odebrecht will be buried after a private service in Salvador.

Odebrecht also recently came under scrutiny for the billionaire contracts it obtained to build three stadiums and renovate the Maracana.

In recent months, groups angry at the government spending staged protests outside the company’s offices in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, complaining that the company profited from the soccer tournament’s organization while Brazil still has woeful housing, education and health care.

Odebrecht was born in the city of Recife on Oct. 9, 1920. The company continues to be owned by his family and has been run by his grandson, Marcelo Odebrecht, since 2008.

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