December 17, 2018 / 5:44 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Itau exec rules out new M&A until Colombia business consolidated

(Adds capital markets outlook, comment)

SAO PAULO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The consolidation of Itaú Corpbanca’s operations in Colombia will take another year, a high-ranking executive at the Chile-based bank’s Brazilian owner Itaú Unibanco Holding SA said on Monday.

Any new acquisition in Latin America is off the table until that process is over, said Eduardo Vassimon, chief executive of Itaú Unibanco’s wholesale banking unit Banco Itaú BBA.

Itaú Unibanco, Brazil’s largest private lender, merged with Chilean Corpbanca in 2016. The combined entity has operations in Chile, Colombia and Panama.

Vassimon said Itaú underestimated the difficulties it would face to integrate and that it was taking longer than expected, citing “problems in systems and processes.”

In a meeting with journalists at the bank’s headquarters in São Paulo, Itaú Unibanco’s chief financial officer Caio Ibrahim David also said Itaú BBA is planning to use more digital tools to expand its retail business in Latin America. In August, Reuters reported that Itaú was considering launching online-only bank accounts in Argentina.

David will take the helm as CEO of Itaú BBA in January, replacing Vassimon, who will retire.

The incoming CEO said he expects a rebound in capital markets activity in 2019, as companies again consider again increasing capital expenditure now that the uncertainty surrounding Brazil’s presidential election in October is over.

Itaú BBA also said it expects a higher volume of mergers and acquisitions in Brazil next year, and predicts ten share offerings to occur in the first half of 2019.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O'Brien

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