Bradesco wins Brazil approval for $5.2 billion purchase of HSBC unit
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Leonardo Goy
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's antitrust watchdog on Wednesday approved Banco Bradesco SA's purchase of HSBC Holdings Plc's HSBA.L local unit with some conditions, marking the latest departure of a foreign lender from one of the world's most concentrated banking markets.
Six board members on the watchdog known as Cade voted to pass the deal unanimously as long as Bradesco BBDC4.SA, the country's No. 3 listed commercial lender, agrees to refrain from making any rival acquisitions for at least 30 months.
After sitting on the sidelines for years while local rivals bulked up through takeovers, Bradesco made a grab for HSBC Bank Brasil Banco Múltiplo SA last August. The $5.2 billion purchase allowed Bradesco to increase assets by 16 percent and add 5 million clients.
The transaction will help Bradesco cut the gap with state-controlled Banco do Brasil SA and Caixa Econômica Federal and private-sector rival Itaú Unibanco Holding SA - Brazil's top three banks by assets. Consumer groups have warned, though, that the deal could hurt competition where the top 10 banks control almost 90 percent of the industry's assets.
Domestic firms acquired 84 of 104 for-sale Brazilian banks and financial targets since 2008, Thomson Reuters data showed. The purchase will give Bradesco control of 13 percent of Brazil's banking assets, 12 percent of total deposits and the nation's third-largest loan book.
Analysts have said the deal, the largest in Bradesco's 75-year history, will test Chief Executive Officer Luiz Carlos Trabuco's ability to absorb large asset management, banking and insurance assets at a time when the economy is headed for the harshest recession in eight decades.
"We are up to the task, we have done our homework," Alexandre Gluher, a senior Bradesco vice president, told reporters at a conference call to discuss the deal on Wednesday.
Gluher expects Bradesco to finalize the integration of HSBC's 851 branches, 5 million clients and over 19,000 employees by October. Continued...