Banco do Brasil's new CEO to pursue efficiency, asset sales -letter

SAO PAULO, April 5 (Reuters) - Banco do Brasil SA’s new chief executive, installed after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ousted his predecessor over plans to close branches, said on Monday he would prioritize improving efficiency and divesting non-core assets.

“Seeking efficiency, growing net income, profitability comparable to its main peers are non-negotiable,” Fausto Ribeiro wrote in a letter to bank employees, citing a more challenging competitive environment for banks.

Bolsonaro confirmed Ribeiro as the bank’s new CEO on Friday, in a move that led two board members to resign over what they described as his lack of experience. Banco do Brasil is the country’s second biggest bank by assets.

Among his priorities, Ribeiro also included the sale of non-core assets. The bank has put up for sale, for instance, its asset management unit, as Reuters reported earlier.

Ribeiro also said he would work in line with the government’s guidance, without providing more details. “Banco do Brasil belongs to the market and to Brasil!” he added. Shares of Banco do Brasil are down more than 21% this year, underperforming the bank’s main peers.

The new CEO said employees would keep working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Bolsonaro has declared his opposition to remote working arrangements.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Peter Cooney