Approximately 40,000 new pools were built in Brazil last year, and Pentair is in hot pursuit of that market.

The Sanford, N.C.-based pool and spa equipment manufacturer recently acquired the assets — namely, pumps and filters — of the pool division of Grundfos Brazil for an undisclosed sum.

“This gives us a nice footprint in Brazil, which, of course, is a very attractive market in South America,” said Carlos Del Amo, vice president of marketing and product development at Pentair Water Pool and Spa.

“In fact, we have a very large initiative based on expansion in emerging markets,” added Del Amo, who headed up the deal in his dual role of overseeing growth in Latin America and the Caribbean for Pent-air Water. “And if you look at all the indicators, Brazil is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading economies.”

With the acquisition, the company hopes to become Brazil’s largest manufacturer of pool equipment within two years. At the moment, Grundfos Brazil holds the country’s No. 4 position in terms of pool equipment, according to Del Amo.

The acquired products, which currently are marketed under the name Mark Grundfos, will be rebranded as Pentair Water Piscinas in the next six months, Del Amo added.

“Pentair is a highly diversified company,” said Bruce Fisher, vice president of global marketing at Hayward Pool Products in Elizabeth, N.J. “So this was logical from a technology standpoint. … It makes sense to me that a global company would do this.”

Though the deal was finalized in the past month, gaining a foothold in South America’s most populous nation had been on Pentair’s radar for a couple of years. The rationale behind the purchase was twofold.  

“Brazil was one of the very first countries to shake the global economic crisis,” Del Amo explained. “By the end of the third quarter, they were done. So in addition to diversifying — throwing our resources behind a global push — the prolonged recession in the U.S. also prompted us to target viable markets outside the country.”

As for how long the current recession could last in the United States, Del Amo doesn’t foresee “major growth” until the end of 2011 to early 2012. All the more reason, perhaps, to hang a hat on fast-growing Brazil and its 1.7 million pools.