DP World has launched a joint venture with the Brazilian company Odebrecht to acquire a majority stake in the private port of Empresa Brasileira de Terminais Portuarios (Embraport) in the city of Santos.

The deal marks a first entry into the Brazilian market for the Dubai-based ports operator. Embraport is under construction adjacent to the existing Port of Santos, Brazil’s largest container port.

The first phase of Enbraport’s construction is scheduled for completion by 2012 and will cost some $500m. The port will have container capacity of one million twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs), rising to 1.5 million after a second phase of construction. DP World will operate the terminal, which will also have capacity for two billion litres of ethanol.

Under the terms of the deal, Brazil’s Coimex Group, which launched the scheme, will reduce its stake but remain involved with the project.