UPDATE 1-Goldman Sachs committed to Brazil operations -COO Cohn

Wed Apr 9, 2014 5:26pm EDT

(Recasts to add Goldman's downsizing in Brazil, Cohn's comments)

By Maria Carolina Marcello and Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA, April 9 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc is committed to maintaining its investment-banking operations in Brazil as part of its global footprint, Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn said on Wednesday.

The size of the unit will reflect business opportunities, Cohn said, adding that Goldman Sachs has not missed any major transactions in the country over the past year. More than 20 bankers left Goldman's investment-banking and wealth management divisions in Brazil since June as the lender slowed down plans to expand in the country more aggressively.

"We are always adjusting our people to where we think the opportunities are," he said after meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia. "We do this in Brazil as we do in every one of our offices, including our main offices in New York, London and Asia."

Four years of soft economic growth in Latin America's largest economy led the pace of mergers and acquisitions, bond and stock deals to slow. Goldman saw its roster of investment bankers in Brazil shrink to about 20 from 45 a year ago, sources told Reuters, as competition mounted and business faltered.

Before the departures, Goldman Sachs had pledged to grow fast in Brazil, where demand for debt and hedging instruments swelled in recent years. Companies and investors are stepping up demand for corporate bonds, asset-backed securities and private equity fund-related vehicles that post higher returns than equities and government debt.

Last year, Goldman increased the capital of its Brazilian unit to $400 million. In a visit in April last year, Cohn also said Goldman would increase the number of companies it serves to 300 from about 100 at the time. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Eric Walsh)

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