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His death, in the city of Santos in São Paulo state, was announced to shocked delegates during the second day of the conference.

Campos, aged 49, was the former governor of the country’s north-eastern Pernambuco state. He was lying third in polls ahead of Brazil’s presidential election, scheduled to take place on October 5, behind incumbent president Dilma Rousseff and candidate Aécio Neves.

After the announcement, IABr decided to cancel the conference’s last panel, in which economists Eduardo Giannetti da Fonseca, Delfim Netto and Maílson da Nóbrega were due to comment.

“Campos was a young and competent leader,” board president Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter of Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau said.

“He is a huge loss for the Brazilian political scene,” he added.

José Velloso, president of the country’s capital goods association, Abimaq, agreed.

“Brazil needs new politicians, and Campos was one of them,” he said.