Brazil banks

As investors scramble to make sense of the sell-off in emerging markets in the past few days, they will be keen to spot any signs of external vulnerability. One item worth looking at is the amount of lending by foreign banks into emerging economies.

Brazil is a case in point. Its external liabilities to global banks have almost quadrupled over the past decade, from about $50bn in 2005 to almost $200bn last year, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

Source: BIS

How worrying is this? Read more

HSBC’s Latin American woes just show no sign of letting up.

While strong performances from the bank’s two biggest markets – Hong Kong and the UK – helped boost overall pre-tax profit by 30 per cent during the third quarter, business in Latin America posted another quarter of double digit decline as bad loans from Mexico and Brazil continue to mount. Read more

Given all the concern over government intervention in Brazil’s economy recently, the following piece of news came as a pleasant surprise on Friday morning.

The Brazilian government has raised the maximum stake that foreign investors can hold in the country’s largest state-controlled bank, Banco do Brasil, to 30 per cent from 20 per cent previously. The limit was last raised from 12.5 percent in September 2009. Read more

The OECD has one key piece of advice for Brazil’s government when it comes to monetary policy: let the central bank do its job.

While praising Brazil for reducing poverty and inequality, the OECD said in its report on Tuesday that the country must build confidence in its macroeconomic policies by tightening monetary policy and improving the credibility of the central bank. Read more

The answer is a resounding yes if comments this week from Itaú Unibanco and Banco Santander are to be believed.

Itaú, which ranks as Brazil’s largest bank by market value, said on Tuesday that loans in arrears for more than 90 days, a benchmark for delinquencies, fell to 4.2 per cent of its loan book during the first six month of this year. That’s down from the 5.2 per cent reported at the end of the first half last year and is the lowest level since the bank in its current form was created in a merger about four years ago. Read more

A report in Valor Econômico on Thursday makes joyous reading for the bankers of struggling tycoon Eike Batista and represents the portents of doom for original holders of his international bonds.

Apparently, Batista and BTG Pactual, the Brazilian investment bank controlled by Andre Esteves, have cooked up a restructuring plan in which the billionaire will reduce his stakes in his more valuable companies to become a minority shareholder. Read more

No rest for Brazil’s biggest bank, Itaú Unibanco, it seems.

The lender announced late on Monday its $307m acquisition of a 51 per cent stake in Chilean retailer Cencosud’s credit card business in Chile and Argentina. Read more

Citigroup has sold its Brazilian consumer finance units to local bank Itaú-Unibanco for R$2.77bn, as the US lender looks to withdraw from part of the country’s fiercely competitive retail banking market.

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If there is one thing that investors are worried about when it comes to Brazil, it is how far the country’s consumer credit boom of the past decade still has to run.

Not too much further, say critics, who point to a rise in average household expenditure on servicing debt. And indeed, private sector credit has doubled over the past decade.

But Data Popular, a research firm, has come up with a startling finding that could give hope that Brazil’s credit binge can continue – without degenerating into a bubble. Apparently, 55m Brazilians – or 40 per cent of the country’s population – don’t have a bank accountRead more

Spain’s two leading lenders, Banco Santander and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, have long looked to Latin America for growth – and more recently to repair troubled balance sheets at home.

But while Santander has hitched its fortunes on Brazil — now its biggest market, accounting for 26 per cent of group profits last year — BBVA has focused on building up its operations in Mexico. Just last month it announced plans to funnel $3.5bn into its Mexico business over the next three years, and the country last year accounted for more than one-third of its global profits. Read more

If anyone was worried by Moody’s downgrade of BNDES and Caixa Econômica, the banks themselves seemed unruffled.

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Is the Brazilian government robbing Peter to pay Paul?

That may sound a bit harsh but it is what Moody’s seems to suggest with its downgrade of BNDES and Caixa Econômica on Thursday. Read more

Another foreign bank is looking to exit at least part of its business in Latin America – this time Citi with its Brazil credit card division.

Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico reports that the local branch of Santander and domestic institution Bradesco are interested in the division, called Credicard. The group is said to be looking to sell the card unit and its consumer finance division, Credicard Financiamentos, for R$1bn and R$1.5bn in time to clock the sale in its first quarter results. Read more

On the homepage of Banco do Brasil, Brazil’s largest bank, you can take out a loan to buy a car, renovate your house or buy electronics and home appliances. Indeed, never before in Brazil has it been so easy to borrow money from a bank. Record-low interest rates are expected to make things even more attractive for borrowers.

Tipping things even further in favour of borrowers is a push by President Dilma Rousseff to encourage banks, all of them but especially those controlled by the government like Banco do Brasil, to reduce borrowing costs to further fuel lending and get the economy moving. Read more

The BNDES, Brazil’s government-owned development bank, lent more than it set out to last year, as loan requests and loans approved reached “levels without precedent in the history of Brazil”, as the bank itself put it.

Its triumphal tone will grate with those who believe the BNDES should be shrinking, not expanding. This applies even to Luciano Coutinho, the bank’s president, who told the FT two years ago the BNDES should be “crowding in” the private sector – rather than, as it is often accused of doing, crowding it out. Read more

By Joe Leahy and Vivianne Rodrigues

After it saved the day last year for Brazil’s mournful initial public offering market by holding one of the country’s few successful listings, BTG Pactual is back with a bang in 2013 with the first major Latin American corporate bond issue. Read more

According to Brazil’s central bank, it was just a technical adjustment. However, after a series of small bank collapses in the country recently it’s easy to understand why not everyone was convinced. Read more

Acquiring a small bank in Brazil may seem like a rather brave thing to do right now. Over the past two years, seven small or mid-sized lenders have either been closed down or changed ownership as a result of financial difficulties. Several of those cases have allegedly involved fraud.

However, if you’re a big foreign bank looking to get into Brazil and you’re savvy enough to know which bank to choose, an acquisition in the sector could be a very smart move. Not only are shareholders now willing to sell for a low price, but it can also be one of the simplest ways to get a banking licence in the country.

For this reason, ABN Amro’s acquisition of Rio de Janeiro-based Banco CR2 last week seems to make sense. Read more

Brazil’s banks got another shot in the arm late on Friday night when the central bank announced changes to the country’s reserve requirements that are expected to inject R$30bn into the system.

The measure was apparently a reaction to the liquidation of small and mid-sized banks Banco Cruzeiro do Sul and another bank on Friday. Read more

It may be one of the sturdiest in the world, but Brazil’s banking system can still be a rather unpleasant place for investors.

After three months of looking for a buyer for the mid-sized bankrupt lender, Banco Cruzeiro do Sul, the central bank gave up on Friday and announced it would liquidate the bank. It also shut down Banco Prosper, which Cruzeiro do Sul had been in the process of buying. Read more