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On Top Once Again

Mar 1, 2003

After seeing many of the international banks quit Brazil, locally owned banks are firmly back in command of South America's biggest financial services market.

Even if it comes late, revenge is sweet. Eight years after international banks stampeded into Brazil paying top dollar for a collection of second- and third-rate banks, foreigners are calling it quits.When they arrived, the banks, mostly European with a sprinkling of Americans, promised to shake up the profitable but inefficient Brazilian banking market. However, many are giving up owning Brazilian banks, disgusted at the huge costs, the tremendous volatility and scant progress they have made.

Brazil is one of the few countries in Latin America where local banks have actually increased their already dominant share of the market. Banks like Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria of Spain, HVB of Germany, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank have recently quit Brazil or slimmed down their business in the country. Italian-owned Banco Sudameris has tried but failed to sell its Brazilian subsidiary. In every case, the buyer has been a local competitor,...

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“The crisis has been a setback for reserve diversification."

Jan Dehn, Ashmore Investment Management