June 25, 2020 / 9:31 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazilian broker XP and shareholder Itau in investment dispute

(Adds details on ads, webcasts)

By Aluisio Alves and Tatiana Bautzer

SAO PAULO, June 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian broker XP Inc and its major shareholder, Itau Unibanco Holding SA engaged in a public spat on investments this week, trading accusations in an ad campaign and webcasts on Thursday.

Itau released TV ads pointing to conflicts of interest of independent investment advisers, who are the bulk of the workforce in XP. In the ad, Itau says most independent advisers receive incentives to sell specific funds, usually receiving part of the fee charged by the product manager.

Although Itau is an XP shareholder, with a 49% stake in the broker, both institutions compete for investors.

In a webcast on Thursday to respond to the ads, XP partner Gabriel Leal said they were targeted at the broker.

It attacked Itau’s investment division, saying it is not sustainable over the long term and that Itau clients transfer 150 million reais ($28 million) every day from their accounts to XP looking for better returns.

Leal also said the bank could sell its stake. “If Itau thinks their stake in XP makes no sense, they should rethink,” he added. “Itau wants an old-fashioned country, with high interest rates and no competition,” Leal said.

XP also offered, in a post in the broker´s Instagram account, prizes to Itau clients that transfer money to XP. Clients would win winter vests with the XP logo.

Itau´s wealth management division also hosted a webcast on Thursday to discuss conflicts of interest. Carlos Constantini, head of the division, said the ads “did not target any specific competitor.” He said clients have to understand the different incentives depending on the investment model.

Asked about its stake as XP, Constantini said the shareholder relationship did not interfere in how Itau´s investment platform is run.

Other Brazilian brokers and banks also operate with independent investment advisers.

$1 = 5.3590 reais Reporting by Aluisio Alves and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler

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