Brazil's BTG mulls bid for JPMorgan physical commodities unit: source

Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:35pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Grupo BTG Pactual SA is considering a bid for JPMorgan Chase & Co's physical commodities unit, a source familiar with the matter said, a move which would dovetail with the Brazilian bank's plans to expand heavily into commodities sales and trading.

The bank, controlled by billionaire financier Andre Esteves, is currently analyzing the asset and reviewing its finances, said the source, who declined to be identified by name because the process is private.

A deal is, at this point, "far away from being something concrete," the person said, adding that no amount or terms have been discussed.

BTG Pactual and JPMorgan declined to comment. News of the bid was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Brazil's largest independent investment bank hired former Noble Group Ltd (NOBG.SI) Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Leiman to lead its expansion drive into commodities, sources have said.

The same sources have also said that BTG Pactual has recruited nearly a dozen traders, managers and analysts in London, Geneva and New York to cover everything from freight to grains to natural gas.

JPMorgan launched the sale of the business, which includes its crude oil, natural gas and base metals trading operations, last week after announcing plans to exit the business in July.

Wall Street banks are facing heightened scrutiny from regulators and politicians on their role in the natural resources supply chain.

Bankers and industry sources have said potential buyers could include foreign banks like BTG Pactual that are not subject to Federal Reserve regulations, merchant traders that are expanding into metals markets or wealthy, risk-hungry investors such as private equity and sovereign wealth funds.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo and Josephine Mason in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Edwina Gibbs)

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