Alberto Verme, Salomon Smith Barney
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Alberto Verme, Salomon Smith Barney

Different ways to skin a cat

Alberto Verme talks at the most incredible speed. Verme works out daily in the gym and a conversation with him is like being on a running machine, walkman on, salsa blaring. It's difficult to keep up.

"The deals that require a sense of humour, patience and persistence I work on," says Verme, Salomon Smith Barney's head of Latin American investment banking. "If someone has an impossible deal they usually call me up."

The $19 billion privatization of Brazil's telecoms operator Telebrás in late July, done in six months and in one sale is the latest example. The government advisory mandate was held by Salomon, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Banco Patrimônio of Brazil.

Yet small deals are as engraved in Verme's mind as large ones. Verme is as keen to talk about selling assets in Costa Rica more than a decade ago or the three years it took finding a buyer for palm-oil acreage in war-torn Colombia. "When the buyers visited the plantation they were met by 10 people with guns," he says of this last deal. "They asked 'is that the security?' In fact, it was the executives."

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