By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO Feb 10 (Reuters) - New York-based investment bank Greenhill & Co Inc has hired former Goldman Sachs Group Inc dealmaker Rodrigo Mello as it expands its mergers and acquisitions unit in Brazil.
Mello will join Greenhill's São Paulo-based office as a managing director, the company said in a statement on Monday. The Brazil-born banker worked for 13 years at Goldman, where he was responsible for the investment banking coverage of clients in the financial, consumer and retail industries, and worked in a series of M&A transactions in those sectors.
"We are very excited about our prospects in Brazil and are pleased to be able to quickly strengthen the team with a key hire at a time when we see the potential for significantly increased M&A activity in Brazil," Scott L. Bok, chief executive officer of Greenhill, said in the statement.
In Brazil, Mello will report to Daniel Wainstein, Greenhill's country head, with whom he worked for almost fifteen years at Goldman. Mello began his career at Goldman Sachs in 1999 and left in 2005 to work at Cristalina, the investment holding company that controls Hypermarcas SA, the largest Brazilian producer of generic drugs and personal care products, the statement said.
He returned to Goldman in 2007 and left again in November last year. Mello will start at Greenhill on Wednesday.
Wainstein, who left Goldman last year, is building a team to advise global and local clients on mergers and acquisitions in Latin America's largest economy. In 2013, companies announced $74.43 billion worth of deals in Brazil, up about 5.7 percent from $70.40 billion a year earlier, according to a quarterly Thomson Reuters report on M&A activity released on Jan. 2.
"One thing that plays in our advantage is that Greenhill is an international company with global connections, and Brazil's M&A story is a global one," Wainstein told Reuters in a phone interview. "About 50 percent of Brazil's M&A deals are cross-border."
Greenhill will shortly announce the hiring of one senior vice president, a vice president, as well as a few junior associates and analysts for its advisory operation, Wainstein added. Apart from M&A, Greenhill wants to act as an independent financial adviser for firms seeking to carry out an initial public offering or go private, he added.
Still, when measured in terms of the number of deals, 2013 was not that favorable for M&A bankers. About 611 deals were announced last year, down from 823 in 2012.
Several top bankers have left Goldman's Brazilian unit in the wake of waning advisory activity and what some bankers see as steps by the banking firm recently to cut exposure to the country. Some of these bankers are Wainstein, Fabio Bicudo, the unit's co-chief of investment banking until last month, and wealth management executive Adriano Koelle, a source told Reuters.