As one would expect, some of the world's biggest financial
firms - Citigroup and Bank of America of the US and
London-based HSBC - have subsidiaries in Brazil. Citigroup
first opened an office in Brazil in 1915 but HSBC only took the
plunge in 1997, when it took over Banco Bamerindus, a bankrupt
retail bank in the southern state of Paraná. Citigroup
has a firm hold on the upper reaches of the corporate banking
market in Brazil thanks to its decades-old relationships with
the country's biggest domestic and foreign-owned firms,
complemented with an investment banking arm, a treasury and
cash management machine, and a big trading and derivatives
presence. Its small retail network is focused on the wealthy.
Citi may be relatively small in Brazil - it had 1.63% of
the banking system's $437.88 billion in assets at the end of
the third quarter 2003 - but it is highly profitable.
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