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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