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At his peak, Mauá controlled eight of the country's ten largest companies (the remaining two were state-owned); his banking interests stretched over to Britain, France, the United States and Argentina. Mauá also founded the first bank in Uruguay (Banco Mauá Y Cia).
Mauá, who established the modern Banco do Brasil, is credited with financing much of the Brazilian economy activity in the 19th century, particularly in coffee plantation, and with the construction of the first railroads, shipyard and cast ironmetalwork in the country. Mauá commissioned the first telegraphicsubmarine cable connecting South America to Europe, developed commercial transportation via steamboats on rivers Amazon and Guaíba, and installed the first gas-fueled street lights in the city of Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil's capital. His fortunes turned around with the decay of the Empire after the Paraguayan War, however, and, by the time he died, Mauá had lost most of his wealth.