| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Aug 4 Itaú BBA hired former Citigroup
Inc banker Francisco Salas to head its investment banking unit
in Mexico, as the Brazilian wholesale and investment bank seeks
to expand financial advisory services in Latin America's
Salas, who spent the last four years as a managing director
at Citigroup covering consumer products, retail and financial
companies in Latin America, will report to Alberto Múlas, Itaú
BBA's senior country officer for Mexico, and to Fernando Iunes,
Itaú BBA's global head of investment banking in São Paulo.
Salas will be initially in charge of a team of three Mexico
City-based bankers, Múlas said in a phone interview. Itaú BBA
plans to add another six bankers to Salas's financial advisory
team before year-end, and another three to bolster coverage of
corporate lending practices by June next year, Múlas added.
"By hiring Francisco, we are incorporating his vast
expertise of Mexico in sectors that are currently flourishing,"
Múlas said. "The trend is to bring in more bankers like him,
with bigger Latin America perspective, to help us increase our
footprint in Mexico."
Parent lender Itaú Unibanco Holding SA is
expanding in Latin America to help Itaú BBA's Brazilian clients
seek new destinations for their money and boost credit and
specialized financial services for companies in the region. A
pullback from major global lenders from the region is helping
Itaú BBA in its push.
Múlas expects Mexican regulators to approve the creation of
a broker-dealer before the end of this year, which would further
leverage the ability of Itaú BBA to land investment-banking
mandates in Mexico.
So far, Itaú BBA has participated in the share offerings of
Alsea SAB de CV and Promotora y Operadora de
Infraestructura SAB as joint international
bookrunner. Múlas said the bank is currently working on two more
similar deals, without elaborating.
Once the broker-dealer is approved and firmly established,
Múlas expects Itaú BBA's headcount in Mexico to reach as many as
45 people. While share offerings are currently booming in
Mexico, Salas' hiring also aims at strengthening Itaú BBA's
mergers and acquisitions practice in the country, he said.
To grow in Latin America, Itaú BBA and rival Brazilian banks
are spending heavily to groom new talent, enhance client
relations abroad and beef up their ability to place new issues
to markets. Grupo BTG Pactual SA is also pushing
into Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
Salas also worked for UBS AG for 14 years.
(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; editing by Gunna Dickson)