UPDATE 1-BlackRock bets on Brazil, sees Bovespa at 77,000
* Largest independent money manager to grow in Brazil
* Sees Bovespa stock index at 77,000 by end of Q1 (Recasts with comments, background, adds byline)
SAO PAULO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - BlackRock (BLK.N), the world's largest independent money manager, sees Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index .BVSP rising to 77,000 by the end of the first quarter on rising demand for exchange-traded funds, a top executive said on Wednesday.
The index, which surged more than 80 percent last year, making it the best-performing stock index in the world, has been sliding in recent weeks as risk aversion gained traction among global investors.
It rose 0.9 percent to 67,163.20 on Tuesday.
New York-based BlackRock plans to launch three ETFs focused on Brazil by the end of February, focusing on consumer retail stocks, real estate companies and the broad stock market, said Saulo Mendes de Almeida, BlackRock's director of sales and capital markets in the country.
The company, which has about $3.3 trillion in assets under management, may seek to expand in Brazil through a partnership with a local retail bank, Almeida said without elaborating.
BlackRock's Brazil plans underscore a trend sought by large global players in the securities industry as the stock market in Latin America's largest country beat rivals during a very challenging 2009. The Bovespa index more than doubled in U.S.- dollar terms last year, attracting billions of dollars of foreign investor money.
"The ETF market in Brazil is still very incipient. We are making a bet on an increase of more individual investors in the market," Almeida said at an event in Sao Paulo.
He also sees growth coming from demand by pension funds looking to boost returns and diversify investments. Currently the benchmark interest rate, known as Selic, is at a record-low 8.75 percent, which has sparked a search for higher returns among investment funds, banks and independent money managers.
BlackRock slipped 0.3 percent to close at $216 on Tuesday. (Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)
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