Latin America: Getting to the bottom of Banco do Brasil
Latin America’s biggest bank is difficult to understand. Is it the tool of its majority shareholder, the government? Or are its decisions rational and market led? Chloe Hayward investigates.
"Being the largest bank again shows that we had a successful strategy of sustaining credit during the crisis"
Aldemir Bendine, Banco do Brasil
ALDEMIR BENDINE IS a very powerful man. Not because he is a senior politician, or a man with vast wealth, but because he is the newly appointed chief executive of the biggest bank in Brazil – in fact, in Latin America. As Banco do Brasil’s relatively new chief executive – he took up the role in April – he is now walking the tightrope between keeping minority shareholders satisfied with a growing and profitable bank and keeping the bank’s leading shareholder, the Brazilian government, happy by satisfying the president’s political ambitions. Banco do Brasil is 66% owned by the state and has just reclaimed the title of Brazil’s largest bank in terms of total assets from Itaú Unibanco. "Being the largest bank again shows that we had a successful strategy of sustaining credit during the crisis, supporting consumers, reducing interest rates and managing the quality of the loan portfolios," says Bendine. The bank’s share price has shot up 75% this year; loan delinquencies remain low but still there is a degree of scepticism about the banks’ strategic ambitions.