Itau shifted loan strategy due to uncertain Brazil economy -CEO

SAO PAULO Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:39pm EST

SAO PAULO Nov 12 (Reuters) - Itau Unibanco Holding SA started a "massive" reduction in the riskiness of its loans about two years ago, a change in strategy that was chiefly prompted by uncertainty about long-term Brazilian economic growth, Chief Executive Roberto Egydio Setubal said on Tuesday.

The bank, Brazil's largest by market value, implemented the strategy believing that it "could deliver better results," Setubal told investors at a shareholders' event in Sao Paulo. The strategy included scaling back presence in risky lending segments, lowering the risk of its loan book and cutting expenses, he added on Tuesday.

"It's a bank that's less volatile, less vulnerable to the economy's stops and gos, more solid," Steubal said. "The change in the loan book profile is massive, if you compare it to the bank that we were two years ago."

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