March 3, 2017 / 9:23 PM / 5 months ago

Brazil builder MRV sees stronger start to the year -CEO

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SAO PAULO, March 3 (Reuters) - MRV Engenharia e Participações SA, Brazil's biggest low-income homebuilder, is off to a stronger start this year than in 2016, co-Chief Executive Rafael Menin said in an interview on Friday.

After a painful two-year recession, Brazil's government has raised income limits on its subsidized mortgage program, helping shore up a shaky construction industry and contributing to Menin's optimism about 2017.

"Unemployment may not improve but confidence will, and we want to meet as much of that demand as possible," Menin said.

MRV has taken advantage of a slumping real estate market in recent years to build its land bank, especially in state capitals, to 42 billion reais ($13.5 billion) worth of land, or enough to build 270,000 homes.

"Since 2013 we've built up a spectacular land bank and we became more aggressive in the capitals," he said, noting MRV's traditional focus on smaller cities. "Our growth is going to come now from rising market share in the capitals."

Menin said the medium-term target is to build 60,000 homes per year, up from about 40,000 per year currently.

MRV shares have risen 30 percent so far in 2017. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday. ($1 = 3.1156 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello and Ana Mano; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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