November 6, 2018 / 2:31 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 2-BTG Pactual's digital unit to boost wealth management growth -CFO

(Adds CFO comments on loans and divestments, analyst comment, details)

SAO PAULO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Banco BTG Pactual SA , Latin America’s largest independent investment bank, expects growth in its wealth management division to speed up in the coming quarters, Chief Financial Officer João Dantas said on Tuesday.

Dantas told analysts on a conference call that the bank should draw more clients as its new digital platform, BTG Pactual Digital, has just launched an online brokerage and the unit has started working with independent brokers. Digital is part of the bank’s wealth management division.

Financial services firms have benefited from the country’s gradual economic recovery and record low interest rates have driven demand for a wide variety of investment products.

In August, Brazil’s biggest private lender, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, closed its $1.6 billion deal for a 49.9 percent stake in XP Investimentos SA, whose innovative investment platform has drawn retail investors away from traditional banks.

BTG Chief Executive Officer Roberto Sallouti said the digital platform is “ahead” of a business plan set up almost two years ago, but did not provide specifics.

In a securities filing on Monday, BTG said wealth management assets rose 7.7 percent to 115.5 billion reais ($30.85 billion) in the third quarter. Net inflows totaled 4.8 billion reais.

Dantas told analysts the digital platform will reduce the costs of luring new clients.

On Monday BTG posted third-quarter recurring net income of 685 million reais, excluding one-time items, down 9.75 percent from a year earlier.

Goldman Sachs analyst Carlos Macedo said in a note to clients that the bank’s profitability could ramp up quickly if gains in trading revenue rebound and fee-based businesses continue to grow. The analyst maintained a “neutral” rating on BTG’s stock.

CFO Dantas said moderate growth should resume in corporate loans now that the uncertainty surrounding the nation’s presidential election is over. BTG’s loan book remained stable in the third quarter.

CEO Sallouti told analysts the bank may continue to reduce its 19 percent stake in commodity merchant Engelhart Commodities Trading Partners.

However, it is likely to keep stakes in its Nigerian oil and gas exploration venture, Petrobras Africa, and in power generator Eneva SA until valuations increase.

Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA, BTG’s partner in Petrobras Africa, said last week it will sell its 50 percent stake in the company to a consortium led by top oil trader Vitol. ($1 = 3.7445 reais) (Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, David Gregorio and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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