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Brazil: European banks remain committed to the region

WestLB and ING are committed; Project finance, capital markets main focus

Several European banks that have traditionally had a relatively small, niche presence in Latin America maintain that they are still dedicated to the region. This commitment comes despite the global economic slowdown and pressure from the EU on some to sell overseas branches as part of more domestically focused restructuring after receiving government aid.

Even though Latin America contributes a relatively small percentage of overall revenues for banks such as WestLB and ING, they remain committed to the region’s project finance and capital markets.

In the past 12 months WestLB, for example, has continued to play a key role in Brazilian infrastructure financings. In August 2009, the German bank completed a $350 million loan to Votorantim, and in October it closed a $1.34 billion loan to Odebrecht. WestLB also committed capital for a short-term $180 million bridge loan to Petroserv.

Bigger hubs
Now pressure from the EU means that WestLB, which has benefited from state aid, is restructuring its business. "With the EU request in mind, we are having to close a few of our branches around the world and focus operations out of bigger hubs," says Jared Brenner, executive director in the global energy group at WestLB.

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