* Record disbursements come amid decline in investment
* Coutinho had set goal of 150 billion reais last year
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Guillermo Parra-Bernal
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state development bank BNDES, the nation’s main source of long-term corporate credit, disbursed more in loans last year than previously expected as government involvement in the economy increased to kick-start a flagging economy.
Rio de Janeiro-based BNDES disbursed 156 billion reais ($76.5 billion) worth of corporate loans in 2012, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year, bank President Luciano Coutinho said on Tuesday. Disbursements last year topped the bank’s goal of 150 billion reais.
The lender sought to stave off the impact of a sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone that weighed on business confidence worldwide. During the second half the bank sped up approvals for credit following a pronounced deceleration in economic activity triggered by a decline in investment.
“We are witnessing an unquestionable improvement in investment plans, based on the data we have,” Coutinho told reporters.
According to Coutinho, demand for credit in some segments suffered from the “carry-over” impact of a sluggish 2011 - when BNDES disbursed 17 percent less in loans on an annual basis. Loans to infrastructure projects fell 6 percent in 2012 to 52.9 billion reais, but those to industry rose 9 percent, and those to electricity projects surged 19 percent last year.
Requests, approvals and consultations for loans surged 60 percent to 312.3 billion reais last year, BNDES said.
BNDES is often described by the government as the only major long-term lender in Brazil.