| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Itau BBA International, a London-based unit of Brazilian investment bank Itau BBA SA, hired two prominent London bankers to join its board as non-executive members, a move expected to help grow the bank's European franchise, a senior executive told Reuters on Monday.
Itau BBA, the wholesale banking unit of Itau Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB4.SA), hired Robert Pickering, a former JPMorgan Cazenove banker, and former U.K. Financial Service Authority official Gay Huey Evans as members of its London-based bank board, Almir Vignoto, chief executive of Itaú BBA UK, said in a phone interview from London.
The hirings are Itau BBA's highest-profile poaches since a decision to transfer the headquarters of the bank from Lisbon to London. The bank could add another 20 staff to the current 50 bankers and traders based in London before year-end to beef up areas such as sales and products, capital markets and corporate and investment banking, Vignoto added.
"The main goal of building up a more diversified board of directors is to take advantage of their expertise in the local corporate banking market and the British regulatory environment," Vignoto said.
Itaú Unibanco, Brazil's largest private-sector bank, is betting strongly on investment banking as a source of revenue now that interest rates in its home turf are at a record low and credit growth is slowing. Itaú BBA helps the 2,500 largest corporate clients of its parent company sell debt and equity, merge or gobble up rivals and hedge against sudden changes in interest rates and currencies.
Both Pickering and Huey Evans will be part of a nine-seat board comprised of five non-executive and four executive directors. Itaú has had a European office for 17 years, with the London office having been open for about five years, Vignoto noted.
Pickering, who was a JPMorgan executive for more than 20 years, was the first chief executive of securities powerhouse JPMorgan Cazenove and was recently a member of the board at Neptune Asset Management, Vignoto said. Huey Evans was a high-profile banker with experience at Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Barclays Plc (BARC.L), he added.
(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and John Wallace)