Banco do Brasil, Latin America’s biggest bank by assets, is considering buying lenders in Colombia, Peru and Chile to attract corporate clients and increase business with Brazilian companies in the region. Last month the bank announced the reopening of its branch in Montevideo, Uruguay.
“We are interested in having a relevant presence in markets other than Brazil,” Allan Toledo, the company’s international, private banking and wholesale vice president, said yesterday in a phone interview.
Banco do Brasil is taking advantage of economic growth in the region and the globalization of Brazilian companies to expand in countries where Brazil has strong trade ties. The IMF forecasts 4.7% growth in Latin America this year, down from 6.1% in 2010.
With improving unemployment and rising consumer demand fuelled on loan expansion the Brasilia-based bank’s first-quarter profit rose 42% to 2.92bn Reals (1.8 billion USD), the bank said on May 10.
In Chile, Banco do Brasil is still interested in buying a stake in Corpbanca, the Andean nation’s sixth-largest lender, Toledo said. He added that there are other possibilities in Chile, though assets are more expensive than others in the region and will require more negotiations.
Colombia is a “very interesting market” because of the country’s population of more than 40 million and prospects for economic expansion, said Toledo. Banco do Brasil is also expanding in the US, home to about 1.5 million Brazilians. The bank in April agreed to buy Florida-based EuroBank for 6 million USD.
Banco do Brasil plans to invest 25 million in the US to open 20 branches within five years, and may make acquisitions to reach that target, Toledo said on April 25. The bank is looking to have 400,000 customers in the US within five years, up from about 15,000 at EuroBank currently, Toledo said.
In April 2010, the bank made its first international acquisition, paying 480 million USD for a controlling stake in Banco Patagonia SA, Argentina’s third-largest bank by market value. BB plans to add about 70 branches to Patagonia’s network over four years.
Credit for companies at Patagonia jumped 77% to 1.5 billion USD over the past 12 months as Banco do Brasil works to turn all Brazilian firms operating in Argentina into Patagonia clients. They include: Odebrecht SA, the Brazilian construction company that’s the largest in Argentina, and Loma Negra Compania Industrial Argentina, the biggest cement maker in the country, owned by Brazil’s Camargo Correa SA