Best Bank: Banco Itaú
Brazil is Latin America’s most important financial market. Any bank with pretensions in the region needs to get its Brazil strategy right. What makes Brazil so fascinating is that the local private sector banks – Banco Itaú, Banco Bradesco and Unibanco – are as strong as any of the foreign institutions in the country. Of these Itaú continues to lead the way. Last year its shareholders’ equity reached R$23.6 billion ($12.4 billion, its assets totalled R$209.7 billion and its market value reached R$92.3 billion. It is the biggest private bank in the country, having overtaken Bradesco. Itaú now accounts for 11% of the Brazilian retail market. Its retail network spans more than 3,200 branches and banking services outlets. Itaú is also one of the leading underwriters of debt and equity offerings in the country.
Last year the bank entered into an agreement with Bank of America to buy BankBoston’s operations in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.