Brazil banking heats up

04/04/2006 | Thierry Ogier

Bradesco chief pledges investment banking dominance

Brazil’s largest private bank is training its sights on leadership of investment banking in Brazil this year, following a hugely successful five year diversification strategy that has made Bradesco one of the best performing – and most profitable – banks in Latin America.

“We are prepared to maintain this level of returns,” Marcio Cypriano, the bank’s president told Emerging Markets yesterday. “Segmentation is going to help us improve profitability.” The bank posted a 32% return on equity last year and has a market capitalization of $36 billion.

Traditionally a retail bank, Bradesco has reorganized and boosted its asset management and investment banking arm, as well as its private banking activities in recent years. The bank’s capital market activities were previously fragmented under various divisions but have since been combined into its new investment bank.

“We’re going to give a big focus to this area this year, as it is the last part of the segmentation that Bradesco needed,” Cypriano said. “We want to get the overall leadership in a short space of time. We are already leaders in asset management and fixed income, we are third in structured finance and debentures. With a greater focus, we’ll get there.”

Last month, Bradesco paid $490 million to acquire Amex’s local operations. “This has allowed us to get an additional 1.2 million customers who spend four times more on average than Visa and Mastercard’s customers”, he said. The bank previously acquired local divisions of foreign institutions, such as Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan in asset management.

Its impressive $2.2 billion net earnings last year were boosted by increased lending activity, and Cypriano foresees a further 25% expansion in credit in 2006, half of which is thanks to its large portfolio in consumer credit. Furthermore, Bradesco has boosted its foreign presence to act in the growing market of remittance from Brazilian immigrants in Japan and Portugal.

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