Vicentin CEO Sergio Nardelli died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday evening at his home in Reconquista, Santa Fe.
Nardelli showed no signs of health problems on the day, holding business meetings, but he had been under enormous pressure for several months. The 59-year-old had been hounded by creditors chasing company debts to the tune of more than US$1.3 billion since late 2019. He was facing several lawsuits for asset-stripping, among other charges, and fighting off a government trusteeship as a prelude to nationalisation since June. The Alberto Fernández administration’s plans to expropriate the company were cancelled last week.
A third-generation member of the founding family, Nardelli had been at the forefront of Vicentin executives meeting with President Alberto Fernández at Olivos presidential residence on June 11.
Before the firm’s problems began last year, the agro-industrial conglomerate had been the country’s fourth leading exporter of grain and sub-products, growing exponentially in recent years through heavy investments in varied business segments which also had their price.
Nardelli was a personal friend of ex-president Mauricio Macri, ensuring that Vicentin was a leading contributor to Macri’s Cambiemos coalition in the 2015 and 2017 campaigns.
The former president favoured Nardelli’s brother Gustavo as his Santa Fe gubernatorial candidate but in the end the candidacy fell to the coalition’s Radical allies. Sergio Nardelli generally kept a lower political profile than his brother.
Following Nardelli’s death, the Senate decided to postpone approval of decree 636/2020 backtracking on the Vicentin trusteeship, devoting Thursday’s session to the budget and the tax moratorium (controversial because it extends to Kirchnerite tycoon Cristóbal López, accused of fuel tax evasion), apart from approving the credentials of three ambassadors, including Radical Ricardo Alfonsín in Spain as well as the new envoys to Hungary and Nicaragua. The knowledge industry bill was also postponed.