Brazil: Unibanco chooses Itaú
Fit of family cultures closer than with rival Bradesco.
The Brazilian banking battle has begun. After a flurry of merger announcements last month, more acquisitions are expected in the next few months.
For some time, there have been rumours of Banco do Brasil mopping up smaller, regional state-owned banks. There have also been rumours that the big privately owned banks, such as Bradesco and Itaú, would buy some of the mid-tier banks that have been struggling with funding shortages. But few predicted a merger of two top names – Itaú and Unibanco – to create the largest bank in Latin America and biggest non-Chinese bank in the MSCI Emerging Markets index. The renamed Itaú Unibanco Holdings will have about $265 billion in assets.
Questions now linger over Bradesco, which before the Itaú Unibanco deal was Brazil’s biggest private bank and which is not entering into any acquisitions. Initial speculation suggested that the bank had opened talks with HSBC, Banco Safra and Citi Brazil. But Marcio Cypriano, chief executive of Bradesco, puts an end to these rumours in an interview with Euromoney. "We are always looking at the market and negotiating but there is nothing new at the moment," he says.