Brazil's XP to boost banking unit after IPO; shares pop in U.S. debut

(Reuters) - Shares of XP Inc XP.O, Brazil's largest digital broker, closed up more than 25% in their Nasdaq debut on Wednesday, and the company said it will use the $1 billion proceeds from the stock offering to boost its banking unit.

FILE PHOTO: General view of XP Inc. headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo

The company’s chief executive, Guilherme Benchimol, told journalists on a call that by widening its range of financial products, including offering credit cards for the first time, XP aims to grab a bigger chunk of its current clients’ assets.

Benchimol estimates that consumers invest 45% of their savings at XP, with the rest parked with retail banks. “Banking concentration in Brazil is still brutal,” he said.

Founded in 2001 as an independent financial adviser, XP has been challenging Brazil’s top five banks, which hold 82% of total assets. With more than 1.5 million clients, XP has 350 billion reais ($83 billion) under management.

The company’s Class A shares closed trading at $34.46, up from the initial public offering price of $27. The offering raised about $1.96 billion, not considering overallotments. The $34 trading price valued the company at nearly $19 billion, or about half the value of Banco Santander Brasil SA, the country’s third largest private-sector lender.

“I think regulations in Brazil have been loosened on the financial side. So it is opening up more competition,” said Jeff Zell, a senior research analyst at IPO Boutique. “And a lot of what American investors are trying to grab (is) that projected growth from the newly open markets.”

Benchimol said XP may consider acquisitions and an international expansion, but that is not its main focus at the moment.

According to XP’s latest regulatory filing, the company had total revenue of 3.44 billion reais ($819.75 million) in the first nine months of this year, while net income attributable to owners of the parent company in the same period was 692 million reais ($164.90 million).

“Investors realize the potential and the upsize that we have ahead of us in terms of how concentrated the financial industry still is in Brazil,” Chief Financial Officer Bruno Constantino said in an interview at Nasdaq.

XP’s shareholders include private equity firm General Atlantic LLC and Benchimol, the company’s founder.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Itau BBA and XP Investments were the lead underwriters for the IPO.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl in Sao Paulo and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Abhishek Manikandan and Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Leslie Adler and Tom Brown