THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014
SÃO PAULO– Itau Unibanco is looking for opportunities to expand around Latin America, Chief Executive Roberto Setubal said on Thursday.
Noting that Brazil’s economy is showing signs of a turnaround, the executive said that while he is optimistic about his country’s potential, opportunities for his bank to grow there are limited.
Itau Unibanco is Brazil’s biggest bank that isn’t controlled by the state.
The bank prefers to expand in Latin America, where Itau’s Brazilian business clients also have operations, Mr. Setubal said.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to grow,” he said. “With low growth in Brazil, our excess of capital has to be invested, and Latin America is a place for us to go where Brazilian companies are.”
But Itau Unibanco isn’t looking to expand in Europe, Mr. Setubal said, because there are better opportunities for it in Latin America.
One area with good growth potential in Brazil is mortgage lending, he said. Consumer lending growth is likely to slow, though, because of high levels of individual debt, he added.
Brazil’s state-controlled banks, Banco do Brazil, Caixa Economica and development bank BNDES, have in recent years been increasing lending, often as part of government programs to help spur economic growth. Some of those banks’ heads have said they plan to slow their lending growth, and Mr. Setubal said he has seen signs that they are.