3 Min Read
(Adds details on Itau's interest, quote from executive, background on Brazilian banks)
SAO PAULO, April 7 (Reuters) - Itaú Unibanco Holding SA is interested in assets that Citigroup Inc has put up for sale in Latin America, as Brazil's largest bank by market value seeks opportunities to expand beyond its home turf, a senior executive said on Thursday.
Any assets that Itaú could analyze for potential purchase are outside Brazil, said Ricardo Villela Marino, senior vice president in charge of Latin American operations.
Marino, who is a member of one of the families that control the São Paulo-based bank, said the bank has not entered into negotiations for any of those assets.
"We'll take a look at every unit they put up for sale" excluding Brazil, Marino told reporters on the sidelines of an event in São Paulo.
Itaú is aiming for its operations outside Brazil to account for almost 20 percent of its total revenue by the end of the decade, up from less than 15 percent now, as part of a strategy to diversify from the recession-stricken nation.
Citigroup announced in February a plan to sell retail banking operations in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Citigroup, which has been present in Brazil for over a century, is trimming banking operations globally that have underperformed because of mounting competition or onerous costs.
A sale of Citigroup's Brazilian unit would come after HSBC Holdings Plc fetched $5.2 billion last year from a sale of its local operations to Itaú's arch-rival Banco Bradesco SA .
However, Marino said Itaú's main strategy in the region is to successfully complete the acquisition and integration of Chile's CorpBanca SA in Chile, Colombia and Perú. The deal received regulatory approval last week.
Marino said that Itaú plans to set aside loan-loss provisions at CorpBanca for some loan transactions, including one with Canadian oil and gas company Pacific Exploration & Production Corp. Related charges from that specific transaction will be reflected in Itaú's second-quarter results.
Itaú's non-voting shares rose 0.5 percent to 29.65 reais on Thursday. (Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Fiona Ortiz)